Keselowski victorious at Talladega
It was not tandem racing and it was not exactly pack racing either on Sunday in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
What it was, was pretty much a grand failure in defensive driving by the best stock car drivers in the world.
That is 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers trying to stay in contention, desperately attempting to keep their motors from blowing up while trying not to run out of fuel and avoid the Talladega “big ones” at the same time.
Brad Keselowski ended up winning the race in the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge by being smart, patient and avoiding the wrecks that littered the track in the final quarter of the 499-mile event.
It was the combination of multi-car crashes and a hot Alabama afternoon that took its toll on most of the pre-race favourites.
Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Hendrick Chevrolet and Ryan Newman in the Hendrick-powered No. 14 Chevrolet went out early with oil pump problems.
Then, with less than 50 laps to go in the 188-lap event, the first big one took out the No. 99 Ford of Carl Edwards, the No. 24 Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon and the No. 56 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., among others.
With five laps to go, Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Chevrolet, the No. 29 Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick, the No. 11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin and the No. 22 of A.J. Allmendinger were all part of an 11-car pile up.
And with the temperatures reaching above 40C, it prevented cars from going bumper to bumper as is the usual mode of racing at Talladega.
But it did allow two- and three-wide racing for the most part — until the two big wrecks — that was pretty entertaining.
Defending Sprint Cup champion Stewart put it best after the race: “That’s Talladega racing: Half the field is wrecked.”
SPENGLER BOUNCES BACK
For most of the past decade Montreal’s Bruno Spengler has dreamed of driving in Formula One.
And during those years the 28-year-old was always a winner, no matter where he raced.
But he could never get to that elusive next level. Spengler had a deal for the past four seasons racing in the DTM series with Mercedes, where he was a regular on the podium without a sniff of a seat in that team’s F-1 paddock.
After last season he was dropped by Mercedes and picked up by rival BMW and on Sunday at Lausitz, he won his first race for the German automaker.
It was also BMW’s 50th victory in the big sports car series but the first in 20 years.
Afterwards Spengler told autosport.com he felt like he was in a dream world.
“It’s difficult to describe. It’s a crazy feeling,” he said. “I was the first one to do a BMW pole position since they came back. Now the 50th victory for BMW is such a special feeling.
“After I crossed the start-finish line I felt crazy. I just wanted to get out of the car and run everywhere. It was amazing and it still feels like I’m in some kind of dream.”
Guelph native Robert Wickens retired after 47 laps when his Mercedes took a spin off the track.
NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Eric McLure was reported in stable condition Sunday in Birmingham, Ala., hospital after a vicious crash Saturday at Talladega. ... One has to wonder why Danica Patrick was not called into the NASCAR rules hauler for a sit down after she deliberately spun out Sam Hornish Jr. after the checkered flag in the Aaron’s 312. ... Fourth generation NASCAR driver Jeffery Earnhardt, grandson of Dale Earnhardt, is branching out. The 22-year-old will make his MMA debut May 22 on a fight card in Charlotte, N.C. ... With IZOD IndyCar teams testing Monday at Texas Motor Speedway, we are still waiting to see which engine Canada’s Alex Tagliani will get to run in this month’s Indianapolis 500. The Bryan Herta Autosports/Barracuda team was let out of its contract with Lotus and has yet to announce whether it will get a Honda or Chevrolet power plant for the big race.
NUTS AND BOLTS
NASCAR Sprint Cup
For the first time in 36 years, there was a Dodge in the winner’s circle at Talladega Superspeedway when Brad Keselowski won the Aaron’s 499 in the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge Charger.
Keselowski survived a pair of big ones on the 2.66 mile banked oval that had claimed nearly one-third of the 43-car field by the time the race was over.
For a guy that has never been lauded for his patience, it was just that quality that won him the race on Sunday afternoon.
Keselowski had found himself in a vulnerable position on the final lap with Kyle Busch on his bumper in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
But he said all through the race he wanted to be patient.
“At Talladega patience may be a bit of an oxymoron because you have to go hard to win this race,” he said. “I went hard early and had all the fenders on and I was able to do some great racing at the end.”
Keselowski said that he had thought a lot about what he would do if he was ever running first with less than a lap to go at Talladega and it was to go high in turn three and come down hard to bust the tandem up.
“I knew that if I got into a situation at the end where I was leading I would pull that move and sure enough as we were going into (Turn) three it was just me and Kyle. I knew the move I wanted to pull and it worked.”
Busch finished second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and series leader Greg Biffle. Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton completed the top 10.