Sunday, October 19, 2014

Keselowski Wins at Talladega, Eliminator 8 Set

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Brad Keselowski won the GEICO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway to move on the Eliminator round of the Chase on Sunday afternoon.
Photo courtesy Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Talladega was a do-or-die race for Keselowski, who needed to win the race to move on to the next round of the Chase.  Keselowski said he had a great car that he had faith in to get the job done.

“I knew it was fast the last time we were here, and then we got caught up in wrecks,” Keselowski said.  “I thought that if we could just get through one of these superspeedway races we could win.  We were fortunate enough to do that today.”

Keselowski’s victory comes one week after getting into numerous on- and off-track altercations with Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth.  Keselowski said they only had one job this weekend.

“We had one job to do, and that was to come to Talladega and win.  I think it was very easy to write ourselves off after the last two weeks.  I know there’s probably some people out there who aren’t happy I won…we went through a lot of adversity, and that makes this week a little more special.”

Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also came into Talladega needing a victory to move on to the Eliminator Round.  Johnson seemed to be the odds-on favorite throughout the day, leading a race-high 84 laps before fading late without drafting help to finish 24th.

Earnhardt led 31 laps, and seemed poised to return to victory lane at Talladega.  But his Championship hopes ended when he was spun by Greg Biffle during the first green-white-checkered finish.  He wound up finishing 31st.

Kyle Busch may have taken the biggest hit when his Chase abruptly came to an end.  Busch seemed like a sure participant in the Eliminator Round, but he was spun by Austin Dillon as drivers scattered to avoid a wreck on lap 103.  Busch hit the wall hard, and his team worked feverishly in the garage to repair his car.  Busch ended up finishing in 40th place, which ended his 2014 Championship hopes.

Unofficial results:
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Clint Bowyer
4. Landon Cassill
5. Ryan Newman
6. Travis Kvapil
7. Kurt Busch
8. Marcos Ambrose
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Casey Mears
11. Joey Logano
12. Kasey Kahne
13. Austin Dillon
14. Reed Sorenson
15. Cole Whitt
16. Michael Waltrip
17. Kyle Larson
18. Denny Hamlin
19. Danica Patrick
20. Brian Vickers
21. Carl Edwards
22. Ryan Blaney
23. AJ Allmendinger
24. Jimmie Johnson
25. Greg Biffle
26. Jeff Gordon
27. Martin Truex Jr.
28. Josh Wise
29. David Gilliland
30. David Ragan
31. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
32. Trevor Bayne
33. Terry Labonte
34. Tony Stewart
35. Jamie McMurray
36. Paul Menard
37. Michael Annett
38. Mike Wallace
39. Aric Almirola
40. Kyle Busch
41. Michael McDowell
42. J.J. Yeley
43. Alex Bowman

The top eight drivers now move on to the Eliminator Round of the Chase.  The next three races at Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix will decide the final four drivers who will race for the Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead in the final weekend of the season.  Below are the “Eliminator 8.”

1. Joey Logano
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Carl Edwards
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Ryan Newman
8. Matt Kenseth

Photo courtesy Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

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