The Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was a wild one for the few drivers left running at the end of the 188-lap event on Sunday. Almost every car that started the 500-mile event was involved in some sort of caution throughout the day. When it was all said and done at the 2.66-mile oval, Brad Keselowski came out victorious in the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford.
Keselowski found himself spraying champagne in victory lane at the end of the long afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. Keselowski led three times for only seven circuits to score his 24th career victory in the series. The veteran racer from Michigan won by 0.210 seconds over Ryan Newman.
“I think we made it through three big wrecks, and the races here at Talladega in the spring and both Daytonas, we got caught up in all the big ones,” said Keselowski after the win. “This one we made it through all the big ones. I thought we were probably pretty strong at those other races and didn't have the luck. Today we had the luck that we needed, and then we were able to execute at the end with the moves on the last two or three laps, so just really, really special win to be able to put it all together at the end.”
Keselowski and the No. 2 crew had to battle a radio issue for most of the race. Early on in the event, a piece of debris knocked the radio antenna off and Keselowski was only able to hear limited radio communications. They were able to diagnose the issue later in the running.
“You know, Paul was about the only one I could hear. He had some big old honking radio that broke through all the antennas, I guess, and interference,” Keselowski said about the issue. “I heard him say "pit," and I'm like, I don't want you to say pit. But I have to respect that they can see things I can't see, and I feel like that's what happened, transpired. He said it, and I was going, oh, God, I hate this. But we pitted, and it worked out. I'm still not sure what broke, but they did a great job fixing it.”
Keselowski will go into the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway comfortably as he’ll advance into the Round of Eight. This season, in 31 races, Keselowski holds three victories, 13 top five and 18 top 10 finishes.
Ryan Newman was holding the charge outfront when the white flag waved. However, Newman, looking to capture his second victory of the season, weren’t able to hold off the faster car of Keselowski.
Despite losing the lead on the final lap, Newman will leave Talladega with a runner-up finish in the No. 31 Chevrolet.
Trevor Bayne will sneak away with a third-place finish in the No. 6 Liberty National Ford. Bayne, like majority of the drivers throughout the race, also had his struggles with on-track accidents throughout the day.
The 2011 Daytona 500 winner scored his second top five finish of the season on Sunday at Talladega. His other top five came at Michigan International Speedway in August with a fifth-place run.
Bayne’s teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who scored wins at Talladega and Daytona earlier this year, finished 26th after being involved in a 16-car wreck in turn three on lap 171. Stenhouse started fifth on the leaderboard.
In his final start at Talladega, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will leave the 2.66-mile oval with a seventh-place run after starting on the pole. Earnhardt Jr. also had issues with a speeding penalty and on-track incidents throughout the afternoon that hampered his chances of winning in the closing laps.
“Yeah, we got lucky. That was just luck being in the right place at the right time and not getting swept up in any of those wrecks,” said Earnhardt Jr. “We had one there that knocked the splitter down really bad on the right-front and that is why we couldn’t do anything at the end. The car was just dragging the ground and wouldn’t go, wouldn’t take off, so it was a little wounded out there at the end. Still got a decent finish and came out of here in one piece.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran will leave the track with six victories, 12 top five and 17 top 10 finishes across 35 starts.
“It’s been better than the last couple of trips here, the last couple of trips we had a lot of trouble in wrecks and hadn’t been able to come home with a decent finish,” continued Earnhardt Jr. after the race. “I would have loved to have won the race for all the fans that come out here. I know a lot of folks came to see this race just for the fact that it was my last plate race and trust me, I wanted to win it for all those folks more than myself, but just couldn’t get it done.”
The Alabama 500 featured 11 cautions for 47 circuits and three red flags. Per NASCAR scoring, only race winner Brad Keselowski, 40th place finisher Justin Marks, sixth-place finisher Denny Hamlin, and runner-up finisher Ryan Newman weren’t involved in a caution flag.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will head to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400. Coverage will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET. on NBCSN. The Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Ch. 90 will carry the live radio feed.