TALLADEGA, Ala. - Brad Keselowki got a shove from Kyle Busch on the first green-white-checkered attempt, built-up a breakaway lead over the rest of the pack, and separated from Busch to win the Aarons 499 Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.
The leader on the last lap has traditionally been a sitting duck coming down to the finish, a fact not lost on Keselowski. The Penske driver had formulated a plan for this exact scenario and was able to use it coming down to the finish.
"The guy running in second should have the advantage, but I had this move all worked up in my mind," Keselowski said. "I went into turn 3 high and pulled down off of Kyle and broke-up the tandem. That allowed me to drive untouched to the checkered flag. It wasn't easy to convince myself to do that, but it was the right move."
That move prevented Busch from setting-up a slingshot pass that could have given him back-to-back wins.
"We knew to get connected to Brad but we didn't do it soon enough," Busch said. "Finally we did get connected and we passed everyone. We got to turn 3 and I got unhooked. I hated that it happened but once it did, the race was over.
"I'm not sure if he did anything but if he did, he's pretty smart. But I just think we just came unplugged."
The most dominant car of the afternoon was Matt Kenseth, who led a race-high 78 laps and was the leader coming to the final restart. Kenseth built up a massive lead over Greg Biffle and allowed the tandem of Keselowski and Busch to fly by on the backstretch.
Kenseth said that he didn't pay attention to Biffle's location and didn't drag his brakes enough to let him connect to his bumper. Once Kenseth built up the massive lead, there was nothing he could do to stop the tandem of Keselowski and Busch from passing.
"I just did a poor job of staying with Greg," Kenseth said. "We had a really fast car all day and nobody could really stay attached...I should have just drug the brakes and kept him with me. By the time he was attached I had way too big of a lead."
Kenseth finished in third and Biffle in fifth.
Keep reading after the jump!
The major game-changer of the race occurred on lap 141 when Aric Almirola turned Dave Blaney into Juan Pablo Montoya, involving the rest of the field. When the dust had settled, the accident had collected pole-sitter Jeff Gordon, Landon Cassill, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Terry Labonte.
The accident occurred in turns 3 and 4 where leaders Kenseth, Stewart and Kurt Busch were all running out of fuel. The slower cars created a chain reaction that damaged over 10 cars.
"A lot of guys are going to want to blame the drafting package but that was the best package we've ever had," Edwards said. "That wreck wasn't because of the package but because people miscalculated their fuel."
This is Jeff Gordon's seventh finish outside of the top-10 in nine races, the worst start to a season he's ever had. He leaves Talladega 23rd in points, 146 markers behind championship leader Greg Biffle.
"I don't know why that car was way down low," Gordon said ...I didn't know if they were racing or coming off pit road. This is just a bizarre year that we've been through. I thought I was clear of the #55 and that's just the way this season has gone."
This is Keselowski's sixth-career win in 99 starts. It's also his second victory of 2012.
Biffle leads Kenseth by seven points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
|1||13||2||Brad Keselowski||Miller Lite Dodge||194||47||4||Running||2||10|
|2||21||18||Kyle Busch||M&M's Toyota||194||43||1||Running||1||1|
|3||10||17||Matt Kenseth||Best Buy Ford||194||43||2||Running||7||73|
|4||5||5||Kasey Kahne||Farmers Insurance Chevrolet||194||41||1||Running||2||11|
|5||6||16||Greg Biffle||3M/O'Reilly Auto Parts Ford||194||40||1||Running||3||15|
|6||24||15||Clint Bowyer||Aaron's/Alabama National Championship Toyota||194||38||Running|
|7||32||34||David Ragan||Front Row Motorsports Ford||194||37||Running|
|8||11||21||Trevor Bayne(i)||Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford||194||0||Running|
|9||18||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet||194||36||1||Running||1||10|
|10||29||31||Jeff Burton||Caterpillar Chevrolet||194||35||1||Running||2||3|
|11||23||1||Jamie McMurray||Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet||194||33||Running|
|12||4||43||Aric Almirola||VeriFone Sail Ford||194||32||Running|
|13||26||38||David Gilliland||Taco Bell Ford||194||31||Running|
|14||3||9||Marcos Ambrose||Stanley Ford||194||30||Running|
|15||2||22||AJ Allmendinger||Shell Pennzoil/AAA Dodge||194||29||Running|
|16||41||93||Travis Kvapil||Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota||194||29||1||Running||1||1|
|17||17||27||Paul Menard||Menards/Turtle Wax Chevrolet||194||28||1||Running||3||10|
|18||25||13||Casey Mears||GEICO Ford||194||27||1||Running||1||2|
|19||9||55||Michael Waltrip||Aaron's Color Your Way Toyota||194||26||1||Running||1||21|
|20||33||51||Kurt Busch||Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet||193||25||1||Running||2||4|
|21||42||47||Bobby Labonte||Bush's Beans Toyota||192||23||Running|
|22||34||10||David Reutimann||Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet||192||22||Running|
|23||22||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Express Toyota||192||22||1||Running||3||8|
|24||8||14||Tony Stewart||Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet||190||21||1||Running||1||16|
|25||20||29||Kevin Harvick||Rheem Chevrolet||184||20||1||Accident||1||1|
|26||30||20||Joey Logano||Dollar General Toyota||184||18||Accident|
|27||39||23||Robert Richardson Jr.(i)||North TX Pipe Toyota||182||0||Accident|
|28||15||56||Martin Truex Jr.||NAPA Auto Parts Toyota||166||16||Accident|
|29||28||32||Terry Labonte||C&J Energy Ford||143||15||Accident|
|30||38||36||Dave Blaney||Golden Corral Chevrolet||142||14||Accident|
|31||7||99||Carl Edwards||Fastenal Ford||142||13||Accident|
|32||12||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||Target/Kraft Chevrolet||142||13||1||Accident||2||3|
|33||1||24||Jeff Gordon||DuPont Chevrolet||142||11||Accident|
|34||40||83||Landon Cassill||Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota||141||10||Accident|
|35||19||48||Jimmie Johnson||Lowe's Chevrolet||61||10||1||Engine||1||5|
|36||14||39||Ryan Newman||Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet||42||8||Engine|
|37||36||97||Bill Elliott||NEMCO Motorsports Toyota||37||7||Electrical|
|38||43||33||Tony Raines||Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet||32||6||Engine|
|39||27||30||David Stremme||Stock Car Steel and Aluminum Toyota||30||5||Transmission|
|40||31||78||Regan Smith||Furniture Row Chevrolet||15||4||Engine|
|41||37||87||Joe Nemechek(i)||AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota||7||0||Vibration|
|42||16||26||Josh Wise #||Morristown Driver's Service Ford||5||2||Rear Gear|
|43||35||98||Michael McDowell||Curb Records Ford||2||1||Vibration|
# = Rookie, Fin = Finish, Str = Start, Pts = Total Points, BPs = Lap Leader Bns Pts, TLd = Times Led, LLd = Laps Led. (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Average Speed: 160.192 MPH Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 13 Mins, 17 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.304 Seconds
Lead Changes: 34 among 17 drivers Cautions: 5 for 24 laps Attendance: 108,500