Talladega Race Report
Denny Hamlin captured his first victory of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with a win in today’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Meanwhile teammate Kyle Busch finished 13th and Matt Kenseth was collected in an accident and left to finish 37th.
Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from the back of the field in 35th but chose to make his way forward early in the race. He would take his first lead on lap 32 and led six different times over the course of the race. Hamlin managed to avoid a number of wrecks that eliminated many contenders including one that took out his teammate Kenseth with just over 50 laps remaining. Hamlin was leading late when a caution came out to set up a final two-lap run to the finish. Hamlin managed to use the low lane on the bottom of the track to secure the lead and was at the front of the pack when a caution came out on the final lap to freeze the field and secure his first trip to victory lane in 2014.
Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Pretzel Toyota 20th but was content through the early portion of the race to take his No. 18 M&Ms Pretzel to the back of the field. He waited patiently most of the afternoon and escaped near disaster with just over 50 laps remaining when he managed to avoid major damage from one of the larger accidents of the day that collected his teammate Kenseth. The M&Ms crew was able to make the necessary repairs on pit road and keep him on the lead lap and Busch managed to race his way back to the front of the field and appeared in good position for an opportunity to win the race running in the top five with the laps winding down. He was eighth on the final restart of the day and was running in the high line but the cars in front of him weren’t able to keep up with the leaders on the bottom of the track trapping him outside the top ten. He would go on to finish 13th.
Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in 22nd position but as he often does on the restrictor plate racetracks he made the decision to run toward the front of the field. Kenseth would his only lead of the day on lap 20. Often times that strategy has paid dividends, but unfortunately a wreck at the front of the field with just over 50 laps remaining would prove costly this time around. Kenseth had no place to go as the 2 car spun in front of him and collected him and several others as well. The Dollar General crew was able to make repairs to his Camry in the garage, but Kenseth would return 13 laps down to the leaders and went on to finish the day in 37th.
Hamlin won the race followed by Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 31 laps and 48 lead changes among 23 different drivers.
Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Kansas. Live coverage from Kansas Speedway will begin on Fox on Sunday, May 11 at 12:30 PM ET (race begins at 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.