TALLADEGA, Ala. — Coming to the white flag, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was running second. Coming to the checkered flag, he was leading and scored the victory.
On the final restart in overtime, Kyle Busch was the leader with Stenhouse to his inside. He got ahead of Busch initially with two to go but was swallowed up with no draft help. He recovered with Jimmie Johnson pushing him past the inside of Busch coming to the line to take the white flag. The lead belonged to Stenhouse rounding Turn 1 and he blocked the advances of Busch and Jamie McMurray to score his first career victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Stenhouse said. “We’ve run really well here at Talladega. This is the closest race track to home. I got a lot of cheers riding around here today and the fans were awesome. We had a lot packed in here at Talladega and it felt old-school. Man, to finally get that win for Jack and everyone on our team is really special.”
It’s the first victory by a Roush Fenway Racing driver since Carl Edwards at Sonoma Raceway in 2014.
McMurray finished runner-up and Busch rounded out the podium.
Aric Almirola and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five.
Stenhouse led the field to the green flag at 2:20 p.m. and led the first 15 laps before trash on his grille forced him to jump out of line to get behind a car to remove it. This handed the lead to Brad Keselowski. The caution flew for the first time on lap 17 when Kyle Larson brushed the Turn 1 wall as a result of a cut right-front tire. Clint Bowyer ascended to the lead by opting not to pit.
Back to green on lap 21, three lines battled for the race lead with Busch on the top line edging out the others on lap 28. Keselowski edged him out at the line on lap 34 to retake the lead.
Denny Hamlin made an unscheduled stop for a vibration on lap 48, which played to his advantage when the stage concluded.
Keselowski won the first stage.
Hamlin cycled to the lead thanks to the timing of the vibration.
The second stage was tamer, only interrupted by caution twice, Reed Sorenson’s right-front tire blowout and slamming the wall in in the tri-oval, and the end of the stage on lap 110, won by Hamlin.
The lead changes during the stage came on laps 81 (Busch), during the third caution (Ryan Newman), 90 (Bowyer) and 92 (Hamlin).
The final stage started with 72 to go, with Matt Kenseth in the lead.
Hamlin took the lead with 70 to go, Keselowski with 69 to go, Hamlin with 68 to go, Keselowski with 67 to go, Kevin Harvick with 65 to go, Johnson with 59 to go and Harvick with 55 to go.
Joey Logano took the lead for the first time exiting Turn 2 with 49 to go.
A cycle of green flag stops with 45 to go cycled Kyle Busch to the race lead with 37 to go.
Ryan Blaney brought out the fifth caution with 28 to go when he was impeded by Gray Gaulding going down the backstretch, bumped by Stenhouse and turned into the outside wall.
With 20 to go, AJ Allmendinger bumped Chase Elliott exiting Turn 2, getting the 24 car loose which turned up the track and triggered a 16-car multi-car wreck.
The seventh caution flew when Landon Cassill’s car stopped on the race track.
Newman’s wreck on the backstretch with two to go set up the overtime run to the finish.
The race lasted three hours, 29 minutes and 16 seconds at an average speed of 145.669 mph. There were 26 lead changes among 14 different drivers and eight cautions for 33 laps.
Kyle Larson leaves with a 54-point lead over Martin Truex Jr.C1710_UNOFFRES