Bad things happen at Talladega. If you are not barrel rolling or wall smacking, you just had yourself a nice, pleasant day in Alabama. That kind of thing, in fact, can get you a win, as was the case with Brad Keselowski on Sunday. The White Deux actually looked pretty good at the end, as the 2012 champ won his 19th career race, and second of the season. When all the smoke had cleared, the driver leading the most laps was leading the last one.
For some, things did not quite work out. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is always seen as a favorite, but after the 50th lap, not so much. He lost control, collected teammate Kasey Kahne, and they went back to check out the snacks available in the garage.
Tony Stewart, under doctor’s orders to protect his back, used the caution to crawl out and let Ty Dillon take that ride home. A seventh place finish proved that they had a plan that worked. Most planned to stay on all four tires, but that idea went tumbling down the track for Chris Buescher who did a few barrel rolls after being caught up in some four-wide racing.
Good news for Junior and Kahne fans, as both returned. Maybe that was bad news. Earnhardt actually had his steering wheel come off under caution and did some shaft driving before he reattached it. This is after he helped Carl Edwards avoid the wall when Edwards shot up the track and sandwiched Junior to a merciful conclusion. A few laps later, Kahne could no longer handle his car, which also shot up into the outside wall and he was finally done, too. At least both Hendrick boys got, not just one but, two post-wreck interviews. You got to keep them sponsors happy.
With less than thirty to go, we managed to rid ourselves of yet another Hendrick car. Kurt Busch influenced Jimmie Johnson to move up to take out fellow Top Ten driver Paul Menard in a mishap that involved 17 drivers. Yet, a less numerous yet more spectacular meeting of the metal took place about 20 laps later when Danica Patrick got turned to the inside and invited Matt Kenseth to space camp, who exposed the bottom of his car to the television viewers as it launched. Patrick, meanwhile, made some solid contact with the wall to feel the agony of de fence. Both were done as another half dozen cars got bent out of shape to some degree in that one.
If you thought we were done, you were just ignoring your inner Ricky Bobby. As Keselowski thundered to the line, with Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, and Jamie McMurray behind him, more boys were beating the stuffings out of their boogity boogities. Kevin Harvick, who almost went wheels up, A.J. Allmendinger, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Martin Truex Jr. were among those making mangled metallic memories.
Seven of the Top Ten at Talladega currently hold down a Chase place. Ryan Blaney is just nine points out while Stewart returns to the driver’s seat this Saturday night in Kansas. Thanks to his relief driver, he only has to make up 61 points and pick up a win, to claim a Chase place. Clint Bowyer had a Top Ten and a win still gets him in, or he has 68 points to make up on 16th place. When you think on it, the odds still might favor Stewart. Bowyer has gone winless in 15 attempts in Kansas, and considering the quality of cars he has been blessed with this season, his odds are definitely not terribly high on Saturday.