Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
Brad Keselowski survived an accident-filled day at Talladega Superspeedway to win the Alabama 500.
Less than half the field remained in the hunt in the final stretch thanks to several late accidents, with only four playoff drivers able to finish. However, the No. 2 avoided damage and earned a come-from-behind win on the final lap.
The third win of the year for Keselowski helps him punch a ticket to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR playoffs, and the results will create plenty of drama with just one race remaining until the next set of eliminations.
Here are the top finishers from Sunday’s action:
1. Brad Keselowski (2)
2. Ryan Newman (31)
3. Trevor Bayne (6)
4. Joey Logano (22)
5. Aric Almirola (43)
6. Denny Hamlin (11)
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88)
8. Kasey Kahne (5)
9. Gray Gaulding (83)
10. David Ragan (38)
As is so often the case at this track, the big story was the constant crashing that knocked contender after contender out of the race.
Chris Knight of Catch Fence listed the only 12 cars left on the lead lap with five to go:
There were three red flags, all in the final 20 laps, and 11 total cautions.
It came down to about a dozen drivers on the last three laps, with Ryan Newman appearing ready to bring home his second win of the season. But Keselowski regained the lead on the final lap, and he held on for the narrow victory:
Only 14 drivers finished the race, with a few playoff drivers staying in it despite being a few laps back. Although it wasn’t a pretty finish, it counts the same in the standings for Keselowski.
The fans were hoping to see a win from Dale Earnhardt Jr., who started on the poll after winning qualifying for his last race at Talladega. His time in front was short, though, with the playoff drivers creating several lead changes in the opening 100 laps.
The stages were especially exciting with points being so important this late in the season.
Keselowski was able to get the win in Stage 1, although it was a narrow victory over Joey Logano:
He remained in the hunt throughout the second stage, but he came in second as Ryan Blaney moved to the front of the pack:
As the race continued, Logano worked his way back into the front and controlled much of the action during the third stage.
Unfortunately, it was a slow end to the race with several cautions halting the action and putting pressure on the restarts. These were nothing compared to the “big one,” which took place with about 17 laps to go and impacted all but a handful of cars:
Jeff Gluck provided a list of the cars that were involved in the crash, including Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and others:
Truex took some responsibility for his role in the collision after heading to the garage.
“Bad judgment,” he said of his aggressive move, per Jim Utter of Motorsport.com. “I should have shown more patience.”
The red flag was brought out with 16 laps to go, with Truex, Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. all done for the day. Harvick and Ryan Blaney joined them off the track a few laps later after this accident:
As the race appeared ready for a final sprint, yet another crash affected the leaders:
Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez were both knocked out of the race with five laps remaining.
It left an abbreviated field with a lot of room to pass, and Keselowski took advantage.
The playoffs continue with a trip to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400. Sunday’s race will be the last one in the Round of 12, meaning four more drivers will be knocked out after the upcoming event.
While Truex and Keselowski are safe, there could be a lot of movement over the next week.