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Talladega Review

When it comes to racing the 2.66 mile Superspeedway of Talladega it often comes down to a matter of simple survival.

A huge crash at the end of today’s race would prove that true once again as 25 cars would get involved. When it was all sorted out Kyle Busch would lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a third-place finish, while Denny Hamlin was scored 14th, and damage from an early race accident would knock Joey Logano off the lead lap and ultimately result in a 32nd-place finish.

Busch started the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota 13th and managed to run toward the front of the field through much of the early going. Unfortunately Busch would be flagged for speeding while exiting pit road and would have to serve a pass through penalty leading him to fall one lap off the pace. Busch would continue to race with the leaders despite the set back and several times led the field to essentially get back on the lead lap. However, as is often the case at Talladega, the lead would change hands frequently and it wouldn’t be until lap 140 when he would get the free pass to get back on the lead lap. A caution on lap 182 would allow Busch to get fuel and line up 13th on the restart. He was running down on the inside lane when the day’s big accident occurred on the final lap and somehow managed to drive through the wreckage to earn an impressive third-place finish.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in 23rd and the team made the decision to hang off the back of the lead pack in hopes of avoiding any early big accidents and remain alive for a final run at the checker flag at the end of the day. The strategy did pay off with late caution bunching up the field for a final restart and a green white checker finish. Hamlin would restart 25th with two to go and was attempting to make his way toward the front of the field when the day’s big wreck occurred on the final lap. Somehow he managed to drive his No. 11 Camry though much of the mess to record a 14th-place finish. Although certainly not the finish Hamlin and the FedEx team had hoped for it did allow them to leave Talladega with their championship hopes firmly intact. He remains third in the current point standings 23 points out of first with six races remaining.

Logano qualified the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota 14th but unfortunately fell victim to the day’s first accident on lap 17 leaving him with damage. He would go a lap down to the field and although he was able to race with the leaders he was unable to gain the lucky dog position when the cautions fell as the field changes positions so many times in the pack racing format of Talladega. Logano would be scored in 32nd position when it was all over.

Kenseth would get the victory, while Jeff Gordon was second, Busch third, David Ragan fourth, and Regan Smith rounded out the top five. There were five cautions for a total of 17 laps with 54 lead changes among 18 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the only night race of The Chase with live broadcast coverage by ABC starting at 7 PM ET (race begins at 7:30 PM ET). Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90 and MRN Radio will also provide live coverage.

You can also keep track of all the action by following @joegibbsracing on twitter.