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Talladega Recap

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was a bit unique for the large track that has become well known for major late race accidents that often involve a large portion of the cars in the field. Although nerves were certainly still on edge and the race still had its share of moments that took your breath away, the big chain reaction wreck never occurred.

Fortunately for Joe Gibbs Racing all three of its teams managed to avoid the accidents that did occur and when it was over Kyle Busch led the way with a fifth-place finish, while Matt Kenseth finished 20th and a engine failure left Denny Hamlin back in 38th.

With four races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, Kenseth is now second in the point standings, trailing Jimmie Johnson by just four points. Meanwhile Kyle Busch was able to climb two spots in the standings and is now third and just 26 points behind Johnson.

Kenseth started the No. 20 Home Depot Let’s Do This Toyota in 12th place and certainly proved to have one of the strongest cars on the track as he made his way to the front of the field. He would take his first lead of the day on lap 11 and would lead four different times for a total of 32 laps over the course of the race. Shortly after the 100 lap mark Kenseth would radio into his team that the handling on his No. 20 Camry had suddenly shifted and become extremely loose. With fear of wrecking he made the decision to drop back from the leaders and attempt to diagnose the situation. The problem would continue until the final round of pit stops with just over 25 laps to go when crew chief Jason Ratcliff would make the call for two tires and adjustments to help improve the balance of the car. Those changes appeared to help and Kenseth was able to race with the leaders once again, but he was shuffled back over the final laps and wasn’t able to get enough partners to form a lower line to race his way back to the front. He would be scored in 20th place at the finish.

Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Halloween Toyota from the 27th position and was patient through the early going. During an early round of green flag pit stops Busch would get caught on the outside lane of pit road and was unable to make the move into his pit box. That forced him to come back around for the needed fuel and tires and the additional stop proved costly to his track position as he went to the back of the field and lost contact with the main pack of racers. The M&Ms Camry proved strong on the track despite running by itself, but eventually the field would catch Busch putting him one lap down. Fortunately his teammate Hamlin happened to be at the front of the field on the inside lane when they got to the 18’s bumper and he was able to pick him up and keep him up front and in the lucky dog position. The needed caution would come on lap 80 and Busch would take advantage of getting bakc on the lead lap as he moved his way back up through the field. He would take his first lead of the day on lap 147 and appeared set to race for the win when he went to the front again on lap 172. This Talladega race to the checkered flag would be a bit different than many in recent history however, with the field thinned out and racing single file down the stretch. Everyone appeared to be waiting for someone else to drop out of the top line to the bottom of the track and make a run for the win, but no one took that risk for fear of losing the draft and falling back in the field. On the final lap the 14 car attempted to make a move but it proved costly as he was involved in a wreck that brought out a caution froze the field. Busch would be scored in fifth-place.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the 15th position and spent the majority of the day racing inside the top 10. Unfortunately on lap 143 he would radio in to his team that his engine was blowing up and was forced to take his car to the garage. Hamlin’s day would be over and he would finish in 38th.

Jamie McMurray won the race, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ricky Stenhouse, Paul Menard, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. There were only three cautions for a total of 10 laps and 52 lead changes among 20 different drivers.

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