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Busch pushes Keselowski to victory in Talladega

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sunday, May 06, 2012

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Brad Keselowski
Getty Images for NASCAR
Kyle Busch pushed Brad Keselowski around the outside of the Fords of Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle with one lap to go and the tandem pulled away with Keselowski's Dodge crossing the line ahead of Busch's Toyota. 

Busch's Toyota could not stay with Keselowski over the final 1/4 lap as the Penske Dodge just walked away from the Toyota despite the draft. Kenseth held on for third and led the most laps.

It was Keselowski's 6th Sprint Cup win and 2nd in the last ten races.

Busch had pushed Keselowski to the lead on Lap 193 of 194 in a race that went six laps past its scheduled distance at the 2.66-mile track. The two cars ran bumper-to-bumper until Turn 3 of the final lap, when Keselowski entered the corner high and dived to the bottom of the track, separating his No. 2 Dodge from Busch's No. 18 Toyota.

After he ditched his dancing partner, Keselowski pulled away as if he has nitrous oxide to win by 0.304 seconds, a relative whipping at a track where wins typically are measured in thousandths of seconds.

The victory was Keselowski's second of the season, second at the 2.66-mile track, the sixth of his Sprint Cup career and the first for Dodge at Talladega since Dave Marcis took the checkered flag 36 years ago.

Matt Kenseth, who led the field to the final restart on Lap 193, came home third, followed by Kasey Kahne and series leader Greg Biffle. Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton completed the top 10.

Conventional wisdom says that the driver running second on the final lap has a much better chance to win a restrictor-plate race than the driver who is leading, but Keselowski had thought long and hard about what he would do.

"I had this whole plan if I ever got in that situation where I was leading," Keselowski said. "I thought about it and thought about it -- dreamed about what to do -- and sure enough, going into (Turn) 3, it was just me and Busch. And I knew the move I wanted to pull.

". . . I went into Turn 3 high and pulled down off of Kyle and broke the tandem up. 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. I'm glad it worked."

After the race, Busch wasn't quite sure what had happened.

"I got to Turn 3, and I got disconnected from him, got unhooked," Busch said. "I hated that happened -- thought we had a shot to win that thing. I'm not sure he (Keselowski) did anything.

"If he did, he's pretty smart, but I think our stuff just came unplugged."

Keselowski's victory ended a wild final quarter of the race, which produced four cautions in the final 45 laps.

As the field began a round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 143, a massive chain-reaction wreck in Turn 3 eliminated a handful of contending cars, including the No. 24 Chevrolet of pole-sitter Jeff Gordon.

Dave Blaney, driver of the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet, Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the No. 42 Target/Kraft Chevrolet, Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford, Landon Cassill, driver of the No. 83 Burger King Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota, were involved
Getty Images for NASCAR
Contact between the Ford of Aric Almirola and the Chevrolet of Dave Blaney triggered the crash, which also collected Martin Truex's Toyota, Carl Edwards' Ford and Juan Pablo Montoya's Chevrolet, among others.

"It was like a wreck at a stoplight," Edwards said. "Everybody started checking up and hitting each other."

With the herd thinned considerably, Paul Menard led the field to a restart on Lap 151. Hamlin, who had regained a lost lap as the highest scored lapped car when NASCAR called the caution on Lap 143, surged to the front, where he swapped the top spot with Brad Keselowski.

Kenseth restarted at the back of the field under a penalty for pitting too soon under the Lap 143 caution, but he quickly worked his way forward, wresting the lead from Denny Hamlin on Lap 167, with the Dodges of Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger lined up behind him.

Five laps later, Hamlin found an opening between Kenseth and Keselowski and took second, but a Lap 175 wreck that started when Casey Mears cut a tire, scrambled the field for a restart with nine laps left in regulation.

As the field crossed the finish line on Lap 181, contact from Keselowski's Dodge sent the Chevrolet of Kurt Busch spinning into the inside wall at the entry to Turn 1. Kenseth led the field to a restart on Lap 185.

The green flag lasted only moments. As soon as the cars crossed the start/finish line, Hamlin ducked to the inside, and Allmendinger tried to block the middle lane. The nose of Hamlin's car, however, was already inside Allmendinger's bumper, and contact between the two cars started a wreck that ruined the chances of Hamlin, Menard, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip.

Note: Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman both exited the race with oil pump problems and finished 35th and 36th, respectively.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 13 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 47/4 194 Running
2 21 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 43/1 194 Running
3 10 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy 43/2 194 Running
4 5 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 41/1 194 Running
5 6 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M / O'Reilly Auto Parts 40/1 194 Running
6 24 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota Aaron's / Alabama National Champions 38/0 194 Running
7 32 34 David Ragan Ford Front Row Motorsports 37/0 194 Running
8 11 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 0 194 Running
9 18 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew 36/1 194 Running
10 29 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 35/1 194 Running
11 23 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats 33/0 194 Running
12 4 43 Aric Almirola Ford Verifone Sail 32/0 194 Running
13 26 38 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 31/0 194 Running
14 3 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 30/0 194 Running
15 2 22 AJ Allmendinger Dodge Shell / Pennzoil-AAA 29/0 194 Running
16 41 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 29/1 194 Running
17 17 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Turtle Wax / Menards 28/1 194 Running
18 25 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 27/1 194 Running
19 9 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota Aaron's "Color your way to Talladega" 26/1 194 Running
20 33 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction Services 25/1 193 Running
21 42 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bush's Baked Beans 23/0 192 Running
22 34 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 22/0 192 Running
23 22 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 22/1 192 Running
24 8 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 21/1 190 Running
25 20 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem 20/1 184 Accident
26 30 20 Joey Logano Toyota Dollar General 18/0 184 Accident
27 39 23 Robert Richardson Jr. Toyota North Texas Pipe 0 182 Accident
28 15 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 16/0 166 Accident
29 28 32 Terry Labonte Ford C&J Energy 15/0 143 Accident
30 38 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Golden Corral 14/0 142 Accident
31 7 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 13/0 142 Accident
32 12 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target / Kraft 13/1 142 Accident
33 1 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 20 Years 11/0 142 Accident
34 40 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 10/0 141 Accident
35 19 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 10/1 61 Engine
36 14 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats 8/0 42 Engine
37 36 97 Bill Elliott Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 7/0 37 Electrical
38 43 33 Tony Raines Chevrolet Little Joe's Autos 6/0 32 Engine
39 27 30 David Stremme Toyota Stock Car Steel and Aluminum 5/0 30 Transmission
40 31 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 4/0 15 Engine
41 37 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 0 7 Vibration
42 16 26 Josh Wise * Ford Morristown Driver's Service 2/0 5 Rear Gear
43 35 98 Michael McDowell Ford Curb Records 1/0 2 Vibration

* Denotes Rookie

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