Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch make list of Talladega winners and losers

Tom Pennington

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Ford and NASCAR all made this week’s list of winners and losers.

In an event that offered everything from the peculiar to the normal craziness associated with racing at NASCAR's largest track, there is plenty to cover in this week's edition of winners and losers.



Yeah, there were some upset drivers (Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski) and the annual debate regarding restrictor-plate racing commenced as it does every spring, but NASCAR should still be pleased with the events of the weekend.

First, the debut of the highly publicized Air Titan more than lived up to the hype. The track drying apparatus did its job by greatly reducing the time it took to dry the 2.6-mile speedway and allowed a race, which appeared destined to be called off, to run its scheduled distance.

As for the race itself, NASCAR got everything it wanted and more: Plenty of passing, drama, controversy and an unlikely winner driving for a small team. All in all, a fairly successful Talladega for the sanctioning body.


When Ford brought Penske Racing into the fold there were concerns whether the defending Sprint Cup champions and longtime mainstay Roush Fenway Racing could coexist. Aware of any potential issues, Ford called its teams together during the offseason and stressed the importance of working as one.

That collaboration was on full display Sunday where Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush) joined forces with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano (Penske) to push Edwards into the lead at one point. And afterward, following David Ragan bringing the manufacturer its second win of the year, Edwards continually stated how happy he was that a Ford team had scored the win and swept the top three positions.

David Ragan

He may fly under the radar because he's not a household name, but David Ragan is quietly one of the better plate racers in the garage. He now has a victory at Daytona and Talladega and of his 14 career top five finishes, half have come at the two plate tracks.

Furthermore, since 2011 Ragan has as many wins in plate races as Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth and has more wins than Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart combined.


Kyle Busch

Maybe it's the new car, over aggressiveness or simply just bad luck, but whatever the reason, running in a large pack has been problematic for Kyle Busch this season.

At Daytona, Busch triggered a nine-car wreck just 34 laps in when he spun out Kasey Kahne as the field barreled into Turn 1. It was déjà vu at Talladega, as Busch again turned Kahne heading into the first corner, this time collecting 14 other drivers.

To Busch's credit, he admitted fault in both instances, though that doesn't fix the pile of crumpled hoods, ripped sheet metal and smashed cars he's left in his wake.

Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne

You have to feel sorry for Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne, who through no fault of their own, have been on the receiving end of Busch's assertive front bumper at both Talladega and Daytona.

Harvick expressed his displeasure on Twitter Sunday, tweeting "Instant replay of Daytona 18 wrecks the 5 we all pile in..." Kahne was slightly more diplomatic but still pointed a finger at the driver of the No. 18 car saying, "I think we both probably understand what happened and we will figure it out from there."

Regardless of where the blame falls, Harvick finished 42nd and 40th at Daytona and Talladega, respectively, while Kahne was 36th and 42nd.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

There was a time when seemingly no matter the circumstances, it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. then everyone else at Talladega. In 10 races from 2000-04, he won five races, had two runner-ups and an eighth-place finish. But in the 17 starts since his last victory, he has just five top 10s and on Sunday, failed to lead a lap and displayed none of the characteristics that at one point made him the dominant force at plate tracks.

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