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Saturday 20 September 2014
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Fred's 250 Trackside

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GEICO 500 TRACKSIDE

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GEICO 500 QUALIFYING

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FRED'S 250 RACE

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BradKWins2

In a must-win situation at Talladega Superspeedway, Brad Keselowski did exactly that, preserving his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship hopes with a victory in Sunday's GEICO 500.

 

With the right side of his car damaged in the wreck that brought out the first caution flag of the afternoon, Keselowski persevered, taking the lead during the first attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish and winning the race in the second overtime—after a wreck that ended the title run of Keselowski's former boss, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 

"I can't believe it," Keselowski said in Victory Lane. "Talladega is such a wild card, and to be able to win here you have to catch breaks and make your own breaks-a little of both.

 

"I can't believe we won at Talladega. This race is the scariest of the three in the (Contender Round) bracket. To be able to win here is really a privilege. It really is."

 

Keselowski won his series-leading sixth race of the season, his third at Talladega and the 16th of his career. That alone propelled him into the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on a day that saw three of the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers—Earnhardt, Kasey Kahne and six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson—fall by the wayside.

 

On the first lap of the first overtime, Keselowski's Team Penske teammate gave the No. 2 Ford the push that enabled him to clear Ryan Newman and take the lead.

 

"We just persevered," Keselowski said. "We didn't give up. I got a lot of help from my teammate Joey Logano and, wow, this is just special. Everything about today is special. I want to say 'Thank you' to everyone that supports our team."

 

A week after losing his cool on the race track and on pit road at Charlotte, Keselowski was the very model of professional poise at Talladega. Coincidentally, the driver with whom Keselowski had the most significant altercation at Charlotte—Matt Kenseth--was behind him on the final restart at Talladega, and at the finish line.

 

And, coincidentally, both Keselowski and Kenseth, the race runner-up, started the race at the rear of the field, Keselowski after breaking an alternator and Kenseth after changing an engine.

 

Kenseth, Newman (fifth Sunday), Denny Hamlin (18th), Jeff Gordon (26th) and Carl Edwards (21st) joined Contender Round winners Logano, Kevin Harvick and Keselowski in the Eliminator Round, which opens next Sunday at Martinsville, (Va.) Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) with points for all the Chase drivers reset to 4,000. Newman was later found to have failed post-race inspection due to his car being too low in the rear onboth sides. The No. 31 Chevrolet will be taken to NASCAR's R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina for further review.

 

Kyle Busch, victim of an early wreck, joined Earnhardt, Johnson and Kahne as drivers knocked out of the Chase.

Johnson, who led a race-high 84 laps, was shuffled back after a restart on Lap 188, the first attempt at a green-white-checkered following a debris caution on Lap 184. In the second overtime, which took the race six circuits past its scheduled 188 laps, he fell back to 24th at the finish.

 

But Johnson's finishing position was of little consequence, once victory was out of the question. Like Keselowski and Earnhardt, Johnson came to Talladega needing a win to move forward in the Chase.

 

After a wild shuffling of positions in the two overtimes, Clint Bowyer finished third, followed by Landon Cassill (first career top five in 147 starts) and Newman. Travis Kvapil, Kurt Busch, Marcos Ambrose and Kevin Harvick completed the top 10.

 

At Talladega, there are always victims, and Kyle Busch was the first. On the backstretch on Lap 103, Aric Almirola tapped the back bumper of J.J. Yeley's Toyota and turned the car sideways into the outside wall, igniting a 10-car chain-reaction wreck.

Riding 28th near the rear of the field, Busch checked up and appeared poised to avoid the melee, only to be launched into the inside wall by Austin Dillon's Chevrolet.

 

With the frame of the No. 18 Toyota bent like a pretzel and suspension parts askew on both ends, Busch brought the car to the garage and dropped to 43rd on the scoring monitor as his team frantically tried to restore the Camry to running condition.

"We were just all starting to shuffle around there and getting ready to pit, and I think it was the 83 (Yeley) in front of me, and I think he might have been trying to check up to get to the bottom," Almirola said of the incident that started the wreck.

"I just barely started to push him and it hooked his car—and we all wrecked."

 

Earnhardt's run at a first championship came to a sudden end on the backstretch on Lap 188, when contact from Greg Biffle's Ford spun the No. 88 Chevy, which had spent 31 laps in the lead, but restarted 16th on the first green-white-checkered attempt.

 

With the car damaged in the wreck, Earnhardt finished 31st, a far cry from the victory he needed to advance to the next round of the Chase.

 

ARTICLE COURTESY NASCAR.com

TimPetersWins

Holding off all challengers in a race that went four-wide on the final two laps, Timothy Peters won the fred's 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

 

Peters arrived at the finish line .143 seconds ahead of second-place starter and finisher Tayler Malsam. Spencer Gallagher ran third, followed by Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney, who trimmed 14th-place finisher Matt Crafton's lead in the series standings to 16 points with four races left in the season.

 

The victory was Peters' first of the season, his first at Talladega and the eighth of his career.

After ducking onto the apron to ensure a strong flow to the fuel pickup in his No. 17 Toyota, Peters, who had charged forward from the 26th starting position, led the field to a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 94 of 95, after Norm Benning's spin in Turn 2 slowed the field for the sixth time.

 

With a strong push from Malsam, Peters hugged the inside line into Turn 1 with Ryan Blaney to his outside. As the field spread out over the final two laps to three-wide and even four-wide, Peters doggedly held the lead and took the checkered flag with Malsam in his tow.

 

"Chris Lambert, who spots for me, did a great job from the time the green flag fell till the checkered flag waved," Peters said. "It was system overload, telling me everything, how far apart they were in front of me, how close the guy behind me was, what run was coming on the outside coming to the checkered flag...

 

"We were making our Toyota Tundra as wide as we could (on the final two laps), and so it feels really good to come across the start/finish line and kind of wipe missing the Daytona/Talladega sweep by (16) hundredths of a second (Peters finished second at Daytona by that margin earlier this year).

"It just felt really good to go to Victory Lane."

 

On the final restart, Blaney got a push from sixth-place finisher Erik Jones and thought he was in position for the win but acknowledged he didn't expect a third line to develop to his outside as quickly as it did.

 

"I thought we were in the perfect spot, leading the outside line into Turn 2," Blaney said.

But the side draft from the outside line separated Jones from Blaney and broke their momentum, dropping them out of contention for the win.

 

A rare engine failure torpedoed Johnny Sauter's championship hopes. Sauter's Toyota slowed on Lap 24 and coasted onto pit road. His resulting 31st-place finish left him fourth in the standings, 36 points behind Crafton, his ThorSport Racing teammate.

 

"Whatever... the championship's over," a disconsolate Sauter said in the garage as his team worked on his Tundra. "From here on out, we can just race like hell."

 

At a track legendary for wild action, Ben Kennedy sustained the hardest hit on Lap 65, when Joe Nemechek lost control of his truck and knocked Kennedy's Chevrolet into the outside wall.

 

Nemechek's first concern was for Kennedy's safety. After learning he had walked away from the wreck, Nemechek radioed, "Put all of the blame for that one right square on my shoulders," indicating his Toyota had been sucked around in turbulent air.

 

ARTICLE COURTESY OF NASCAR.com

RACE WEEK WTDR INTERVIEWS

ROGER PENSKE INTERVIEW

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JIMMIE JOHNSON INTERVIEW

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TERRY LABONTE INTERVIEW

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GREG BIFFLE INTERVIEW

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DARRELL WALLACE, JR. INTERVIEW

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GRANT LYNCH INTERVIEW

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MARK GARROW INTERVIEW

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JOE MOORE INTERVIEW

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DAVE MOODY INTERVIEW

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THOMAS RHETT INTERVIEW

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MIKE HELTON INTERVIEW

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ROGER PENSKE & BRAD KESELOWSKI INTERVIEW

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MATT KENSETH INTERVIEW

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BOOTIE BARKER & CASEY MEARS INTERVIEW

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CLINT BOWYER INTERVIEW

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BRAD KESELOWSKI INTERVIEW

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DENNY HAMLIN INTERVIEW

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MICHAEL WALTRIP INTERVIEW

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RYAN NEWMAN INTERVIEW

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