The Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway is always a really exciting restrictor plate race. This one was exciting but relative to past Talladega races it was tame. Although the race started about 45 minutes late due to rain earlier in the morning and track drying activities, it finished only five minutes late. Continuing the trend in NASCAR for fewer cautions and leading to a very quick overall pace of the race.
The question of whether or not there would be Pack Drafting or Two Car Tandem Drafting has been settled. Most of the race there was Pack Drafting as drivers and teams tried to keep their cars cool till the end of the race. From time to time there were some Two Car Tandems either for practice purposes or simply just to get to the front but those who Tandem usually stopped one they got to the front. As expected though, Two Car Tandem drafting was what won the race.
Most of the race was relatively calm. The exceptions were Regan Smith’s and Ryan Newman’s Chevy’s blew engines inside the first 50 laps. Jimmie Johnson had a piece of debris take out his oil pump and also blew an engine due to the lack of oil flow, leaving the race early. With less than 50 laps to go the first “Big One” happened extending Jeff Gordon’s string of bad luck and ending his day. It also took out Carl Edwards and ended the great string of finishes for Martin Truex Jr.
Most of the whole race was led by Matt Kenseth and at time it looked like there was no way for anyone to get up there and pass him. Matt led 73 laps out of 194 and received the bonus point for leading the most laps.
There was another wreck with 12 laps to go that required a lengthy cleanup, setting up for a green white checker finish. On the restart Matt Kenseth took the outside line in order to get in front of his teammate Greg Biffle seemingly enabling him to have the race in hand. The restart went as planned except Greg did too good a job to get Matt a huge lead such that he could not get back behind him. Matt Kenseth said “Greg and I were separated, those guys were already outside of him. With nobody behind him, lost his speed. With me not paying attention, keeping us hooked up, just cost us a shot at the win, cost Greg a shot at the win. Just didn’t do a very good job of managing where he was on that last restart.”
Brad Keselowski working with Kyle Busch timed it perfectly and used the Two Car Tandem to get a huge lead on Matt and Greg on the last lap. “ I felt pretty good having Kyle behind me. I knew he was a good pusher. It was just a matter if there was another car behind us.” Said Brad “I felt real good about the move we were able to pull on Matt. Surprised him and the 16 didn’t gang up with more full force than what they did.”
Brad Keselowski won the race, Kyle Busch was second, Matt Kenseth was third, Kasey Kahne was fourth and Greg Biffle ended up fifth. Greg Biffle is still the point leader over Matt Kenseth by 7 points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished ninth but drops to third in the standing one point back from Matt. There were only 19 cars on the lead lap at the end of the race.
Talladega Superspeedway is where Brad Keselowski won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race in 2009. That win was with a smaller team in only his fifth career Sprint Cup Start. That one win, catapulted Brad Keselowski into the iconic Penske racing Miller Lite Dodge that he won the race in today.