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Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR
Car owner James Finch (left) congratulates Brad keselowski in the Aaron's 499 Victory Lane...
Keselowski Gets Win In Wild Aaron's 499 At Talladega
TALLADEGA, ALA. -- Carl Edwards was heading for Victory Lane when a nudge from rookie Brad Keselowski sent him careening into the frontstretch retaining fence to end a wild and wooly Aaron's 499 Nascar Sprint Cup race here Sunday. Edwards ended up finishing 24th.
The last-lap wreck also took veteran Ryan Newman out of the race as well. Newman had tucked in behind Edwards and pushed him towards what appeared to be a sure-fire Edwards win before the bumping incident.
Keselowski went on down the track to win his first-ever Sprint Cup race with smoke and parts from Edwards' Ford filled the air.
It was a day of costly wrecks for many of NASCAR's biggest stars but Dale Earnhardt, Jr., brought his Hendrick Chevrolet home second behind the rookie winner.
The race had restarted after a previous wreck that knocked Two-time champion Jimmie Johnson and other race leaders from contention, including Martin Truex, Jr., and Juan Pablo Montoya, both of whom had shown great speed all afternoon. Denny Hamlin, another frontrunner all day, also was involved, as was Michael Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, David Stremme and Jeremy Mayfield.
Kyle Busch took himself out of contention while leading the race in the late stages. He tried to block a line of charging cars behind him and was spun out in the process when Jeff Burton tagged his rear bumper.
The action-packed race had a total of nine cautions and will go down in Talladega history as one of its best races.
Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Edwards thrilled the huge crowd after his spectacular wreck within sight of the finish line by climbing out of his smoldering, torn-up Ford and jogging down the track to finish the race on foot (pictured above.) The crowd roared its approval but the crowd was roaring most of the splendid, sun-splashed Alabama afternoon.
Finishing behind Keselowski, Earnhardt and Newman was Australian Marcos Ambrose, who ran with the leaders most of the day.
Another rookie, Scott Speed, was fifth, followed by Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Brian, a third top 10 rookie, Joey Logano, and Burton. Montoya, who was running at the finish in a beat-up Chevy, was 20th.
The weather was perfect for a race and, as usual at Talladega Superspeedway, there was no lack of celebrities on hand to watch, including Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban, as well as TV personalities Connie Chung and Maury Povich.
This monster track draws a crowd every time with its hub to hub, three and four abreast action.
NASCAR's best drivers gave the crowd of well more than 100,000 exactly what they came for right from the gitgo.
Pole winner Montoya took off like a gazelle with a fast group of pursuers locked on his rear bumper and another row of cars formed up in the middle lane, plus another string of 200 mph dominoes in the outside lane.
The cars were dancing and diving all over the place before Alabama favorite Earnhardt brought the house to its feet by charging to the front on the fifth of the 188 laps.
Just two laps later, cars were spinning everywhere behind the leaders in a demolition derby of high-speed destruction. The dreaded Talladega "Big One" came early.
Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images
It started on lap seven when AJ Allmindinger was forced up from the middle lane in the middle of turn two and made contact with Sam Hornish, creating a chain-reaction crash involving 13 cars, including points leader Jeff Gordon and three other top 12 drivers -- Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahn. Others involved included fan favorite Mark Martin, last week's winner at Phoenix, Jamie McMurray, Elliott Sadler, David Gilliland and Scott Riggs.
Sadler and Hornish were able to continue. In fact, Sadler had moved into eighth place by lap 27 after the restart.
At the end of 28 laps, Burton was the only Richard Childress Chevy left running and he was mired in 34th spot after pitting one lap before another caution flag fell for debris on the track.
When the race restarted this time on lap 34, it was young Busch up front with positions changing like wildfire behind them. Five laps into the green flag, Busch still led with Ragan second, Speed third and rookie Keselowski fourth. Earnhardt was fifth at the time.
Waltrip brought out another caution on lap 43 when he spun off the track at the entrance of the pits but slid down the track without hitting anything.
The race restarted on lap 46 and Earnhardt stormed into the lead a lap later, followed by Johnson, Ambrose and Truex but they were swapping positions so fast, it was hard to keep up with who was running where.
On the restart at lap 65, Truex, Sadler and Earnhardt were 1-2-3 and Ambrose was fourth. Gordon, Allmindinger, Harvick and Kahn had rejoined the fray but many, many laps behind. They were racing to try and get as many points as they could on a bad, bad day.
The racing continued to be unbelievable with lead changes quicker than the public address announcer could say who was leading... Montoya, Earnhardt, Truex, Hamlin..... all of them led part or all of a lap during this portion of the race.
The fifth caution of the day slowed the field at lap 88 and Paul Menard was the new leader when the race restarted. Hamlin was second but took the lead a lap later.
At the halfway point of 94 laps, it was Hamlin, Reutimann, Stremme, Vickers, Sorensen, Truex, Montoya, Menard, Johnson and Mears.
Unofficial Race Results click here
Driver Point Standings (Post Race) click here
NASCAR Newscast - Talladega Review click here
TV Broadcast Times*
Practice: Friday April 24 at 3 p.m./SPEED
Final Practice: Friday April 24 at 4:30 p.m./SPEED
Qualifying Time Trials: Saturday April 25 at 12 p.m./SPEED
RaceDay, Pre-Race Show: Sunday April 26 at 12:30 p.m./SPEED
FOX Pre-Race Show: Sunday April 26 at 2 p.m./FOX
Race: Sunday April 26 at 3:19 p.m./FOX
*Times shown are AT - one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Aaron’s 499
The Date: Sunday, April 26
The Track: Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile tri-oval)
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
The Distance: 500 miles/188 laps
TV: FOX , 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN and Sirius Satellite
2008 Polesitter: Joe Nemechek
2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
Schedule: Friday—Practice, 1-2 p.m. and 2:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday—Qualifying, 10:15 a.m. (All times CT/local.)
Year-To-Date Results & Point Standings click here
Practice, Qualifying, Starting Lineup & More...
Juan Pablo Montoya won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Aaron's 499 with a lap of 50.890 seconds,
Complete Starting Lineup click here
- This is his first pole in 82 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
- There has now been a first-time pole
winner for 23 consecutive NSCS seasons.
- This is his first pole and third top-10 start in 2009.
- This is his first pole in five races at Talladega Superspeedway.
- Greg Biffle (second) posted his fourth top-10 start of 2009 and his fourth in 13 races at Talladega
- Martin Truex Jr. (third) posted his second top-10 start at Talladega Superspeedway. It is his second in
nine races this season.
- Scott Speed (eighth) was the fastest qualifying rookie. This is the second consecutive Talladega race with a first-time (career)
pole winner. (Last October's Talladega pole winner was Travis Kvapil.)
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: Michael McDowell and Eric McClure.
Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Final practice Friday afternoon saw three-wide action at Talladega Superspeedway; Carl Edwards turned the fastest lap at just under
195 mph. Cup teams will qualify Saturday at Noon AT...
Friday Final Practice Speed Chart click here
Qualifying Order click here
Starting Lineup* stay tuned
NASCAR Newscast - Talladega Preview click here
*Does not reflect adjustments that may be made prior to the race start because of the cars that need to go
to the rear of the field due to engine and/or transmission changes or practice wrecks...
- Owner-Driver Breakthrough Victory Could Be At Hand For Stewart...You have to go all the way back to Sept. 27, 1998 to find the last time a driver-owner won an event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Ricky Rudd raced to victory that day at Martinsville Speedway.
After eight races this season, Tony Stewart (No. 14 Old Spice Chevrolet) appears poised to end that drought. Stewart comes into Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway fourth in the series points — and comes off a season-best second-place finish at Phoenix.
Stewart, in his first year heading up the new Stewart-Haas Racing operation, has accelerated the progress of his team and now, he comes to one of NASCAR’s fastest tracks, the 2.66-mile Talladega tri-oval. The high-banked layout, celebrating its 40th season this year (see Page 2 for more info), also happens to be the place where Stewart’s last previous NASCAR Sprint Cup win occurred. Last October, Stewart (shown celebrating, right) captured Talladega’s fall race — his final victory for his former team at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Although he’s still after his first win as a driver-owner, Stewart has quickly developed a championship style consistency. Which means, for the first time since Alan Kulwicki’s magical march to the series title in 1992, the words “driver-owner” and “championship” are compatible when used in the same sentence.
“This is the best start to the season that I’ve ever had in my career,” Stewart said. “The last three weeks have just been amazing. I mean, it’s been so much fun. We’ve been in contention. We’ve led laps. We’re doing everything right. It’s just a matter of time.
“We are consistent now and that’s the way you’ve got to be. We’re just clicking them off one at a time here. I don’t think any of us would have predicted we would be in the top five in points.”
- At The Four-front: Past Champions Leading The Way In Points...Eight races into the season, things have gotten serious. The top four drivers in this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings are all former series champions — and account for 10 championships between them.
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) and Tony Stewart are the four at the front, separated by only 104 points. This has happened only two other times since the current point-earning system went into effect in 1975 and one of those times was earlier this season — after Week 2.
The other occasion: 1986 after Week 10. The four back then: Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison and Terry Labonte.
Gordon is a four-time titlist (1995, ‘97-98, 2001), Johnson is a three-timer (2006-08), Busch has one title (2004) and Stewart is a two-time (2002 and ‘05) champ.
- “We’ll get them at Talladega,” was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s proclamation at Phoenix, where an encouraging run ended in a 31st-place finish.
Rest assured that “Junior Nation” was listening, and preparing for its twice-yearly coming-out party at Talladega. Nowhere is Earnhardt’s massive popularity more evident.
In recent years, though, the pro-Earnhardt crowd has been frustrated.
Following a seven-race ‘Dega run between 2001-04 when he finished first five times and second twice, Earnhardt’s best result there has been seventh.
- This week, Regan Smith (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet) returns to Talladega — the scene of a race that last year was perhaps both the highlight AND the lowlight of his season.
Smith, the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, used an inside last-lap pass last October at ‘Dega to challenge Tony Stewart at the finish line. After Stewart was declared the winner Regan still thought he might have won. That pass, though, was ruled illegal because Smith’s car went below the yellow line. The infraction dropped him to 18th in the final results.
Smith comes back to Talladega driving for a team outside the top 35 in car owner points — meaning Smith has no guaranteed berth in the Aaron’s 499 and must qualify based on speed.
- Robby Gordon (No. 7 Robby Gordon Motorsports Toyota) has the 35th and final guaranteed berth this week. Gordon’s self-owned team is only 26 points ahead of the No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet driven by David Gilliland.
Next up, 37th in points, is the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota team and driver Scott Speed.
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