By earning first place in the Geico 500 at Talladega on Sunday, 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski secured his place in the Eliminator Round of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Matt Kenseth took second place in the action-packed race, with Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, and Ryan Newman taking third, fourth and fifth places respectively. Drivers who will not be progressing into the next phase of the championship include Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Brian Vickers was in pole position at the start of a race that saw a number of changes in the lead, ending the race in 20th position. Johnson needed a win to avoid elimination, but although he did well in parts of the race, ended in 24th position. As green flag pit stops began at Lap 103, Kyle Busch was caught up in a wreck at the back of the field, sending him into the pits. He made it back to the track, picking up 4 points, but ending in 40th place.
At one point Danica Patrick was in the lead, but when a caution came out with only 13 laps remaining, Ryan Newman took the lead and held it until another caution flag came out with only five laps to go. As the race came to an end, Earnhardt got caught up in a wreck, and Keselowski took the lead in overtime, holding back the rest of the field for the final three laps and winning the Talladega race.
The eight drivers competing in the Eliminator Round – Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth – will have their point totals reset to 4,000, while the abovementioned four will have their point totals reset to 2,000 with points gained in the regular season and the Chase being added. The Eliminator Round starts with Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, followed by the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2, and the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9. The final Championship race will be the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16.
Covering a distance of 500 miles in 188 laps, the GEICO 500 is one of four races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to be run with restrictor plates. The winner in 2013 was Jamie McMurray driving for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Who will take the checkered flag this year? For more information visit nascar.com
Date: 19 October 2014
Venue: Talladega Superspeedway
A multi-car wreck on the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Camping World 500 aided Jamie McMurray in taking the checkered flag at the Talladega Superspeedway event on Sunday, with Dale Earnhardt Jr and Rick Stenhouse Jr taking second and third places respectively. When rookie Austin Dillon lost control of his car on the final lap of the race, the resulting crash ruled out any chance of Earnhardt challenging McMurray’s position, allowing him to cross the finish line in first place for the first time in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since 2010 when he won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dillon had been running third behind McMurray and Earnhardt when he crashed, with the only other driver involved being Casey Mears.
One of the highlights of Jamie McMurray’s career was his first place spot in the 2002 UAW-GM Quality 500 – a race in which he led 96 of the final 100 laps and beat Bobby Labonte. He was a substitute driver for the event and it was his second Cup start. In 2010, he became one of only three drivers to have won both the Brickyard 400 and Daytona 500 in the same year. In 2003 McMurray focused on the Sprint Cup Series and won Rookie of the Year having had five top-5 finishes and finished 13th overall for the year.
McMurray has been driving the #1 Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing since 2010 – the year he won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. In 2011 McMurray earned four top 10s and finished the season in the 27th spot in points, while the 2012 season saw him earn only three top tens. 2013 started off on a disappointing note as he crashed on lap 33 of the Daytona 500, finishing in 32nd place. His first top ten of the season was at Bristol, with his second being in Martinsville. He finished as runner-up to Matt Kenseth at Kentucky and took 11th place at New Hampshire. Although not part of the Chase, McMurray’s victory on Sunday reaffirms his skill as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver.
The current Top Ten in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings (in order) are: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards.
Driving for Font Row Motorsports, David Ragan crossed the finish line in first place in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. Ragan was closely followed by teammate David Gilliland in what is widely being described as a “surprising” finish and a “David and Goliath” type battle and victory. Carl Edwards took third place followed by Michael Waltrip and Jimmy Johnson in fourth and fifth places.
Talladega has been the scene of a number of devastating crashes over the years, and Sunday’s race included two crashes which may have changed the outcome of the race, but thankfully didn’t cause any major injuries. The first crash took place 44 laps into the race and involved 16 cars. Kyle Busch’s car tapped the back of Kasey Kahne’s sending him into the wall and resulting in a chain reaction which Busch later accepted responsibility for triggering. The second crash came following a three-hour delay caused by heavy rain and a restart with only six laps to go, raising questions by some as to why NASCAR didn’t just call the race and avoid the last restart, with others supporting NASCAR’s decision. Danica Patrick, Terry Labonte, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and JJ Yeley were among the drivers involved in the second crash.
The latest NASCAR Sprint Cup standings has Jimmie Johnson (383 points) in the lead, followed by Carl Edwards (342 points), Dale Earnhardt Jr (324 points), Clint Bowyer (316 points), Brad Keselowski (314 points), Kasey Kahne (299 points), Aric Almirola (293 points), Paul Menard (290 points), Kyle Busch (285 points) and Greg Biffle (280 points).
Born on December 24, 1985, in Unadilla, Georgia, David Ragan started racing at the age of 12 in the Bandolero Series. He has been racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2007 when he replaced Mark Martin in the #6 for Roush Fenway Racing. His first career NASCAR Sprint Cup series victory came on July 2, 2011 in the Coke Zero 400 held at the Daytona International Speedway. Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 victory was his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win.
Matt Kenseth took first place in the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, with Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch coming in at second and third place. But it was the twenty-something car pileup caused by Tony Stewart that took all the attention, with drivers blaming restrictor plate racing for the mayhem, and a number voicing their concerns regarding this NASCAR rule which results in cars bunching up and unable to get away from one another. As the field headed for the finish line, it was four lanes deep with no place for maneuverability when Stewart moved in front of Michael Waltrip, triggering the pileup.
Initially implemented for safety reasons, restrictor plates are used at superspeedways such as Talladega and Daytona, and more recently New Hampshire, to effectively slow cars down. Consisting of a square aluminum plate with four holes drilled into it, the size of which is set by NASCAR, a restrictor place is placed between the carburetor and the intake manifold with the aim of reducing the flow of fuel and air into the combustion chamber of the engine, thereby reducing horsepower and speed. With improved aerodynamics and technology of racecars over the past ten years or so, they have become capable of reaching speeds exceeding 225 mph (362 km/h), which experts believe is too dangerous for both drivers and spectators. When Bobby Allison crashed into a retaining fence at Pocono Raceway on 19 June 1988, he was traveling at a speed of 210 mph (338 km/h). The crash nearly killed him and endangered the welfare of hundreds of fans.
While traveling at slower speeds may be to increase safety, it also levels the playing field to an extent, causing all the cars in the field to be bunched up and leaving little space for top drivers to pull away from the pack, or to work their way out of the bunch. Having all the cars bunched together traveling at speeds of 190 mph around a track presents safety issues of its own, as one poor decision can cause multiple-car crashes – and this problem was resoundingly illustrated in Sunday’s race at Talladega.