Hamlin Holds Onto the Lead Late for Talladega Victory

Photo- Getty Images
Photo- Getty Images

When trouble struck as the white flag was waving, Denny Hamlin was in the perfect position. He was out front and stayed there until NASCAR threw the yellow-flag for debris scattered across the frontstretch. This is the No.11 team’s first victory of the season and the one likely providing a Chase birth.

A mix of drivers led the race early. Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, and Jeff Gordon all shared the top spot before the first caution on Lap 14.

Just as Brad Keselowski took the lead, he attempted to clear Danica Patrick in the bottom lane. However, Keselowski wasn’t completely clear. When he moved down the track, he got into the No.10 car and was tapped around. Keselowski drifted back up the track a few seconds later, but miraculously, he only made slight contact with other cars.

Two “Big One’s” occurred in Sunday’s race.  The first struck on Lap 136. As the cars roared through turn 4, Keselowski got loose and spun around in the middle of the pack. He collected many other cars, 12 in total. Drivers involved included Trevor Bayne, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Brian Scott, Alex Bowman, Michael Annett, Paul Menard, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, and Jimmie Johnson.

“(The car) broke loose and spun out on me” was how Keselowski described the start of the incident to FOX. Keselowski’s car suffered heavy damage and retired from the race

The second “Big One” of the day occurred with 14 laps to go. Jimmie Johnson’s car broke loose going through turn 4 and spun around. Other drivers reacted to Johnson’s spin and were also collected in the wreck. Those drivers include Michael McDowell, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Denny Hamlin led as the final restart commenced with two laps remaining. As the cars raced to the white flag, contact between Ryan Newman and Alex Bowman in the tri-oval sent Bowman and Justin Allgaier spinning. Debris flew off of Allgaier’s car and landed in the middle of the racing surface. This forced NASCAR to throw the yellow-flag to end the race.

Hamlin was out front at the time of the caution and was deemed the victor. This was his first Talladega victory and his first points paying win at a restrictor-plate track.

The wild and unpredictable Talladega prevailed on Sunday afternoon. Three-wide racing was featured throughout as fans stayed on the edge of their seats all afternoon. Despite the race ending under caution, anyone could have scored the victory as there were a total of 188 lead changes.

The Sprint Cup Series will be at Kansas Speedway next weekend for the inaugural night race at the speedway.

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Results via ESPN.com

POS DRIVER CAR MANUFACTURER LAPS MONEY START LED PTS BONUS PENALTY
1 Denny Hamlin Toyota 188 34 12 47 4 0
2 Greg Biffle Ford 188 35 58 44 2 0
3 Clint Bowyer Toyota 188 27 0 41 0 0
4 Brian Vickers Toyota 188 18 6 41 1 0
5 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 188 3 0 39 0 0
6 Paul Menard Chevrolet 188 2 10 39 1 0
7 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 188 8 15 38 1 0
8 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 188 42 0 36 0 0
9 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 188 29 0 35 0 0
10 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 188 25 0 34 0 0
11 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 188 41 1 0 0 0
12 Kyle Busch Toyota 188 19 1 33 1 0
13 Aric Almirola Ford 188 15 0 31 0 0
14 Casey Mears Chevrolet 188 4 3 31 1 0
15 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 188 5 0 29 0 0
16 Michael Annett Chevrolet 188 17 0 28 0 0
17 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet 188 43 0 27 0 0
18 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 188 6 1 27 1 0
19 Marcos Ambrose Ford 188 26 3 26 1 0
20 Josh Wise Ford 188 36 0 24 0 0
21 Cole Whitt Toyota 188 31 0 23 0 0
22 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 188 7 6 23 1 0
23 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 188 20 2 22 1 0
24 Terry Labonte Ford 188 37 0 20 0 0
25 Michael Waltrip Toyota 188 28 0 19 0 0
26 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 188 30 26 19 1 0
27 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 188 38 0 17 0 0
28 Alex Bowman Toyota 187 33 0 16 0 0
29 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 187 32 0 15 0 0
30 Carl Edwards Ford 182 10 6 15 1 0
31 Ryan Truex Toyota 182 24 0 13 0 0
32 Joey Logano Ford 174 16 25 13 1 0
33 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 174 9 0 11 0 0
34 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 174 22 1 11 1 0
35 David Ragan Ford 174 39 1 10 1 0
36 Michael McDowell Ford 174 14 1 9 1 0
37 Matt Kenseth Toyota 171 21 1 8 1 0
38 Brad Keselowski Ford 160 13 1 7 1 0
39 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 156 11 1 6 1 0
40 David Gilliland Ford 150 40 1 5 1 0
41 Trevor Bayne Ford 136 23 6 0 0 0
42 Brian Scott Chevrolet 136 1 0 0 0 0
43 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 136 12 0 1 0 0
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