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.
Results via ESPN.com
|10||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||188||25||0||34||0||0|
|17||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevrolet||188||43||0||27||0||0|
|26||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||188||30||26||19||1||0|