TALLADEGA, Ala. — A jack getting stuck under the car of Joey Logano on his first stop didn’t stop him from rallying back to score the victory in Alabama.
Martin Truex Jr. led the field to the green flag at 2:22 p.m. Brad Keselowski got a run on him going down the backstretch to lead the first lap. Truex worked his way up alongside Keselowski in Turn 1 to take the lead for the first time on the 13th circuit, only to give it back to Keselowski a lap later.
The No. 2 Penske car spent most of the run blocking all three lanes, which allowed Chase Elliott to get under him in Turn 3 and take the lead on lap 26. Keselowski regained it briefly two laps later before Elliott powered by on the top in Turn 1 to regain the lead back on lap 29, only for Keselowski to take it back on lap 32.
Green flag stops started on lap 37 with the first wave of cars hitting pit road. Race leader Keselowski was among the second wave the following lap. After the third wave pitted, the lead cycled back to Keselowski.
Teammate Logano was penalized for removing equipment (jack) from the pit box under this pit cycle.
Truex’s Chase hopes went up in smoke when his car went up in smoke in Turn 2 on lap 41.
“Just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power,” Truex said. “Originally I thought it could have been a tire because it was shaking worse and worse and worse until it was time to pit. I slowed down to hit pit road and felt the vibration still there and knew it was the engine. Definitely not the way we wanted to go. It’s a tough way to go out, but proud of the effort and proud of all the guys.”
The race restarted on lap 47. Attempting to block Elliott’s advance, Keselowski found himself without drafting help and Elliott took back the lead, only for Biffle to get a run on him going into Turn 1 to take the lead on lap 49. Elliott worked his way back to the lead by dropping to the bottom lane going into Turn 1 and driving under Biffle on lap 78.
Another wave of cars started pitting the following lap. The lead under the cycle went as follows: Elliott, Hamlin, Edwards, Annett and Keselowski.
A three-car wreck involving Biffle, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Casey Mears on the frontstretch brought out the second caution with 74 laps to go.
After the race went back green with 68 to go, it settled into a routine of going back and forth between single and double file. The most notable event during the run was Keselowski blowing an engine on the backstretch with 42 to go and bringing out the third caution. Teammate Logano assumed the lead
The next run didn’t last a lap because the caution flew the same lap as the restart with 39 to go for a big piece of debris on the backstretch.
Going back green with 35 to go, the race was slowed down with four to go by Kasey Kahne wrecking in Turn 3 and Alex Bowman going for a spin through the tri-oval grass coming to the line to get two to go.
Restarting in overtime, Logano had to hold off Brian Scott to score the victory.
“It’s never a layup here at Talladega. It’s always close,” Logano said. “You never get a big lead. A good Shell/Pennzoil Ford. Todd made some good adjustments during the race and found some speed in the car, so that was pretty neat to see some of that. We got that track position and just hung onto it. I was able to stay on the bottom and try to run the bottom and keep everyone in lane, and that worked out really well. Kevin did a good job with that, which ultimately got us all a great finish. It was fun racing there at the end. I was really confused. I didn’t know what lane to pick coming to the last restart, but I knew Kevin had a lot of experience in these situations and is great at speedway racing, so he did a good job of pushing me out and then had to defend the top lane with Brian Scott, so a couple of Fords out front here at Talladega is pretty cool.”
It’s his 16th career victory in 287 Sprint Cup Series starts, second of 2016 and second at Talladega Superspeedway.
Scott brought his No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford home to a runner-up finish, his career-best finish and first top-10 finish of 2016. Hamlin rounded out the podium in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Describing the level of stress, Hamlin said the race “was crazy. I mean, it was very tough in there not having any teammates, but there were a lot of guys that acted like teammates today to me and can’t thank enough for that. They know who they are. I don’t want to get them in trouble with their race teams because they’re probably a different team, different manufacturer, but thank those guys for that. 4 (Kevin Harvick) cut me a break at the tri-oval. I mean, just – we had something go our way for crying out loud. One time, we had something go our way and we just battled at the line right there with the 41 (Kurt Busch), so just – I’m just so happy.”
Kurt Busch finished fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-five.
“It was really fun. Every time I would make a mistake and get shuffled to the middle it seemed like the crew guys would bring back a solid pit stop to put us in position and to be in control,” Busch said. “It feels good when we have that plus alongside our name in points. I was trying to ease it for Tony Gibson (crew chief) and all these guys that work so hard. There was some rooting and gouging at the end and I got some damage. I don’t even know where we finished, but all I was shooting for was top 15.”
Kyle Larson finished sixth, Kevin Harvick finished seventh, Aric Almirola finished eighth, Austin Dillon finished ninth and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top-10.
Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Edwards, Hamlin and the Busch brothers advance to the Round of 8 while Austin Dillon, Elliott, Keselowski and Truex go no further in the Chase.
The race lasted three hours, 11 minutes and 38 seconds at an average speed of 159.905 mph. There were 31 lead changes among 14 different drivers and six cautions for 25 laps.c1632_unoffres