Keselowski Survives Carnage to Win at Talladega

by Tucker White On Sun, Oct. 15, 2017

Brad Keselowski celebrates victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Brad Keselowski outlasted three straight red flag-inducing wrecks, passed Ryan Newman on the final lap and held off teammate Joey Logano to win the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Entering Turn 3 on the final lap, Keselowski juked to Newman’s outside to take the lead. He put the block on Logano, before dropping down to the bottom to stop the advance of Newman and took the checkered flag.

“I survived. What a special day. We haven’t been as good as we want to be on the mile and a half’s. We knew we needed to come to Talladega and get it done, and this is a great track for us and one that we really enjoy coming to. It’s great to get a win here. I never thought I’d win here, but five times!”

It’s his 24th career victory in his 300th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start.

Newman finished second and Trevor Bayne rounded out the podium.

“We held them off longer than I expected,” Newman said of the last few laps. “I couldn’t tell how much nose damage I had and I hadn’t led all day, so I didn’t know what to expect. I saw the No. 2 (Keselowski) car in the mirror backing up and then he lost his draft and then he backed up again and he caught the No. 22 (Logano). That was all it took for him to get a good run. I would have maybe played it differently and backed it up in hindsight, backed up to them in hindsight, but I don’t think it would have made a difference. They were double-teaming me and you know it was still a good race to finish second with the Caterpillar Chevrolet.”

“Man I am proud of all of my guys on this Liberty National Ford,” said Bayne after the race. “They did a great job fixing our Ford after all of the damage we got throughout the day. These guys just never give up. And in the end on that last corner off of four we got a huge run off the top and got to third, so I was pretty pumped with that. I think we were eighth coming across for the white flag, but I wanted those two more spots and we did.”

Logano and Aric Almirola rounded out the top-five.

Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Grey Gaulding and David Ragan rounded out the top-10.

Retiring with 10 career restrictor-plate victories, Earnhardt said, when asked if it meant anything to him that he’ll go down as one of the best restrictor plate races in the history of NASCAR, “absolutely.”

“Anytime anybody says you’re the best at anything, it’s an awesome feeling. I can’t deny that it feels awesome to hear that. People consider you good at anything, it’s a great feeling. I knew that I wasn’t going to win 200 races and seven championships and do all those great things. I just wanted to come in here and be considered talented. But to be great at anything was beyond my imagination. I appreciate people’s compliment’s on my plate driving and the success we’ve had at all the plate races.”

RACE SUMMARY

Earnhardt led the field to the green flag at 2:16 p.m. Logano powered by on the top side, on the backstretch, to take the lead on the third lap.

He and the Ford’s pitted on Lap 15, while the Chevrolet’s tried to duck onto pits on Lap 27. But Erik Jones plowed into the back of Jamie McMurray, turning him into the outside wall, causing a multi-car wreck that brought out the first caution of the race.

After another caution brought out by Paul Menard slamming the wall in Turn 3, Keselowski edged out Logano in a one-lap shootout to win the first stage.

Kahne led the field back to the green on Lap 61, losing the lead on the restart to Matt Kenseth. Hamlin acquired it from Kenseth two laps later.

Debris brought out the fourth caution on Lap 80.

Lap by lap battling between Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney after the Lap 87 restart led to dicey racing all the way to the conclusion of the second stage, won by Blaney.

He took it back from Brendan Gaughan on the Lap 115 restart, lost it to Hamlin on Lap 117 and muscled his way back to the front on the front stretch on Lap 119. Chase Elliott, on the backstretch, powered by Blaney on the high side to take the lead with 64 laps to go.

The Ford’s ducked onto pit road for their final stop with 45 to go, followed by the Toyota’s — and Hendrick cars — the next lap. This handed the lead to Kyle Busch.

Heading down the backstretch, Logano powered by Busch on the topside to retake the lead with 41 to go.

The caution flew with 37 to go when Bayne hit the wall in Turn 3.

Back to green with 29 to go, the caution flew again five laps later when DJ Kennington turned Joey Gase into the wall exiting Turn 2.

Restarting with 18 to go, the next three cautions resulted in red flags. The first was a 16-car wreck in Turn 3: 12 minutes and 31 seconds, the second was a five-car wreck in Turn 3: five minutes and 45 seconds and last was 17 minutes and 14 seconds.

These three wrecks set up the run to the finish.

NUTS & BOLTS

The race lasted three hours, 47 minutes and 52 seconds, at an average speed of 131.577 mph. There were 30 lead changes among 16 different drivers and 11 cautions for 47 laps.

Martin Truex Jr. leaves with a 19-point lead over Keselowski.

Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and McMurray leave in the bottom four spots.

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