The David’s came out on top at Talladega. How? Not many people know, but who care because it’s incredible.
David Ragan brought home his underfunded, barely sponsored, No. 34 Ford into victory lane late Sunday evening at the Talladega Superspeedway. His teammate, David Gilliland, who shoved him through top teams on the final lap, finished right behind Ragan in second. The win was the first for Front Row Motorsports since their inception in 2005.
— Ford Racing (@FordRacing) May 6, 2013
The Aaron’s 499 at Talladega was probably as wild as it gets. However, the winner itself was just insane. For Front Row Motorsports to finally win a NASCAR race after all of these years is like the New York Mets beating the New York Yankees in the World Series. Yeah, it’s that big.
Ragan’s win is the second of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, both of which have came at superspeedways. It’s incredible that with Front Row Motorsports’ funding, which basically comes out of team owner Bob Jenkins’ pocket, they were able to beat all of the top teams on Sunday afternoon. Ragan got a gigantic shove from Gilliland exiting turn four as the two crossed in between Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson to finish first and second. Even with the win, Ragan is still 26th in the points standings while Gilliland is 29th, as both gained four spots. The win most importantly, puts Front Row Motorsports on the charts as a victor in NASCAR’s top series which has taken more than long enough and is definitely well deserved.
As for the rest of the race, well the rain kind of destroyed much of the day. Rain red flagged the race for approximately three hours as NASCAR officials desperately preserved the track with the Air-Titan dryers. Even though the race could have, and probably should have been called, NASCAR made sure that the fans were safe as there were scattered thunderstorms with lightning surrounding the track on several occasions. Yet, the day went on as fans came back into the track to catch the second half of the crazy restrictor plate racing, which Talladega is famous for.
The first half of the race was hectic. The first incident of the day occurred when Travis Kvapil hit the wall with Dale Earnhardt Jr. After that, it was calamity corner every few laps.
On lap 44, the “big one” happened and man was it big. Kyle Busch got into the back of Kasey Kahne just past the start/finish line as they spun right into a wad of cars. Overall, 16 cars were involved in the incident, one of the most ever in Talladega. The wreck ended the day for some drivers, others were able to continue, but with moderate to severe damage. The second big wreck occurred towards the end of the race.
Kurt Busch was sent flipping several times, landing onto Ryan Newman’s car as that put Busch’s car back on its wheels. This wreck was massive as it took out the majority of the remaining cars on the lead lap. 12 cars were involved in this wreck which set everything up for a green-white-checkered finish. There would’ve been more opportunities for the green-white-checkered finish, but because it was so dark outside due to the rain delay, NASCAR only allowed for one, which was all they needed.
This set up for an incredible finish. Matt Kenseth, Johnson and Edwards were setting up to battle out for the win, but they ended up slipping back a few spots. Kenseth, who led the most laps, slipped back to the eighth position, while Johnson and Edwards finished in the top five.
Johnson leads Edwards by 41 points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings. Michael Waltrip escaped trouble at the end of the race to gather his first top five since New Hampshire of 2008, where that race was canceled due to rain. Scott Speed also racked up a top 10 finish, the fourth of his career and the first for Leavine Family Racing.
Overall, the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega was the perfect day for Front Row Motorsports as David Ragan randomly picked up the checkered flag for the biggest little team in the NASCAR circuit. The only driver that isn’t happy for Front Row Motorsports is Johnson, as he feels like Ragan restarted illegally when he clearly didn’t.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.