TALLADEGA, Ala. – In typical Talladega Superspeedway fashion, Brad Keselowski passed Ryan Newman on the final lap to win Sunday’s Alabama 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race.
Keselowski started the final restart from the lead, but lost it when Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin passed him on the backstretch. Newman was in the lead coming to the white flag and for a portion of the final lap.
Keselowski moved out of line to the high side to pass Newman and cleared him coming out of turn four. He then threw a huge block on his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano and was able to drive smoothly to the checkered flag.
Newman was able to hold on to a second-place finish. Trevor Bayne came out of nowhere to finish third, with Logano finishing fourth. Aric Almirola rounded out the top five despite spinning and crashing coming to the checkered flag.
“Wow, I survived. What a special day. This is a great track for us and it is great to get a win here,” Keselowski said. “Never thought I would win here five times. We got through some big wrecks today, always good to have a little bit of luck. I put the block on Joey and it was just enough to get the win. I’m glad I don’t have to do that again.”
For about half of the race Keselowski had major radio problems and was unable to hear his spotter, Joey Meier, while inches away from cars going more than 200 mph.
“It ain’t no fun. It’s so hard to tell what’s going on,” added Keselowski. “It’s just part of the pain and privilege of Talladega.”
Keselowski was not the only driver who had a little bit of luck Sunday. Dale Earnhardt Jr. came home with a seventh-place finish, and it was not an easy seventh place. Earnhardt had to avoid two big crashes and was able to get away from both with minimal damage. However, during the final three laps, he was not able to keep up with the leaders due to some splitter damage on the front of his Chevrolet.
“I couldn’t really push anybody,” said Earnhardt, who started from the pole. “We got lucky. Man, it’s just real hard to keep that track position. I was pulling for a lot of them out there. We weren’t going anywhere on the final restart. We kind of stuck out like a sore thumb at the end. I can’t complain, we had a decent finish.”
The first two stages of the event were pretty clean, with only a couple of cautions for single-car accidents and debris. Once the final stage came around, everything changed.
There were 11 cautions throughout the event, with six cautions in the final stage and three of them resulted in red flags. It took more than an hour to complete the final 17 laps.
The dreaded ‘Big One’ arrived on lap 172. Martin Truex Jr., who has already locked himself into the next round of the playoffs with his win last week in Charlotte, clipped David Ragan, who then turned Kurt Busch into the backstretch wall. After that, chaos ensued.
A total of 17 cars were involved in the wreck, including a number of playoff contenders such as Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Matt Kenseth. Of the 12 playoff drivers in Sunday’s race, only four were running at the checkered flag.
Next week, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series concludes the Round of 12 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 22.
To view the full results, click on the next page.