For a race that drew only a handful of yellow flags throughout much of its 188-lap scheduled distance, Sunday’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance Sprint Cup race at Talladega served up plenty of drama, much of it condensed into the final green and white flag lap.
As the laps wound down, it looked like Clint Bowyer would indeed take the hat trick, winning three Good Sam 500s in a row. Mat Kennseth had other ideas, though, shoving past Bowyer in a late-race restart. For a while, at least, it looked like this race at Talladega would go off without the “big one.”
With six laps remaining, contact between Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray brought out the race’s final yellow flag. Crews quickly cleaned up the debris from McMurray’s car, but the net result was that the race would be decided by a final green-and-white-flag dash to the finish.
Following the restart, Tony Stewart pulled (briefly) into the lead but lacked any drafting partners to secure the victory. Stewart pulled down into the path of the charging Michael Waltrip (who was being pushed by Casey Mears), and the net result was the “big one” that fans of racing at Talladega knew was inevitable.
Some 25 cars were involved in the carnage, though somehow all drivers escaped injury. Stewart was quick to take responsibility for an ill-timed move, but that didn’t stop drivers from voicing their opinion of the track’s dangers.
Greg Biffle compared the wreck to a scene from Days of Thunder, telling NASCAR.com, “it was the craziest thing I’ve ever been involved in - in my life.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was perhaps the most outspoken, saying, “If this was what we did every week, I wouldn’t be doing it, let me put it to you like that. I don’t even want to go to Daytona and Talladega next year, but I ain’t got much choice.”
It took NASCAR a while to sort out the finishing order, but officially it was Kenseth, followed by Jeff Gordon, followed by Kyle Busch in the final podium spot. Brad Keselowski retains the Chase points lead, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer.