Brad Keselowski entered Talladega with a five-point lead over Jimmie Johnson and left with a 14-point unofficial championship advantage. He received damage in the last lap crash but navigated through the melee to finish seventh.
After the race, Keselowski repeated several times that he was just "lucky to survive Talladega."
His was one of the teams reportedly a half-lap short on fuel and pitted prior to the restart in case of numerous green-white-checkers. When the final accident broke loose, Keselowski was forced to take evasive action in order avoid the sideways car of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Keselowski was heavy on the brake – making light contact – and limped his way to the finish line.
"I heard four-wide for about two-and-a-half laps, and it's just a matter of time before you wreck and it happened," Keselowski said. "It's just Talladega. I rode the bottom lane, knowing a crash was coming and hoping I could escape it.
"It's not really how I wanted to escape...I'd rather just win the race. But with the way that the pit stops shook out and with everyone really close on fuel, staying out was definitely the right move because we didn't get a second green-white-checkered. I'm pretty sure a lot of guys would have ran out and that wouldn't have been the right move. The crew made all the right calls all day and we got a good finish out of it."
When told that he had an unofficial 14-point lead, Keselowski said, "Wow. That is big."
But Keselowski isn't taking anything for granted. There's still six more races remaining in the Chase and there are a lot of points left to be earned.
"There's still a lot of racing left," Keselowski said. "And at least we're not fighting from a hole."
Crew chief Paul Wolfe was equally relieved. He said he was looking forward to the next six weeks and perhaps, the stretch run to a championship.
"Talladega is out of our control," Wolfe said. "Now we can go back to racing where we have a bigger influence on the performance. We're looking forward to Charlotte and doing the things we've been doing to get to this point in the Chase."