NASCAR Cup Series | Results & 3 takeaways from Sunday’s Alabama 500 race at Talladega – Charlotte Observer

Brad Keselowski survived multiple crashes at Talladega to win his first playoff race and advance to the Round of Eight, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday’s Alabama 500 race:

1. Talladega lived up to its reputation, and then some

There’s a reason talk about “The Big One” comes up often at Talladega Superspeedway, and that’s obvious after Sunday. To put it mildly, the race was carnage – countless crashes, almost too many red flags to count on one hand. Multiple playoff drivers (including current leader Martin Truex Jr.) didn’t even finish the race, but to be fair, almost no one did. By the time the last five laps were run, the handful of cars left in contention were either heavily damaged or back-of-the-pack drivers who (somehow) avoided the wrecks. That said, it made for an incredible ending with drivers weaving and blocking one another to steal the checkered flag. Keselowski came out on top, but Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and even Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a chance to win.

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2. Keselowski saves himself from elimination…

Speaking of Keselowski, he needed this win as much as anyone. He came into this race at 10th in the standings and in serious jeopardy of not making it through to the Round of Eight. But Keselowski has been good at Talladega historically, winning four times there before Sunday’s victory, so this win isn’t out of nowhere. That said, he only led for seven of the 188 laps, partially due to all the crashes, so it really was about his performance at the end of the race. Keselowski also won the first stage of the race to pick up even more points. This is his third win this season, and it really couldn’t have come at a better time. Now Keselowski is second in the standings and destined not only for the third round of the playoffs, but also for a potential run to Homestead.

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3. But which other drivers did he bump?

Of course, there can’t be a jump up the leaderboard with subsequent drops. It’s a shorter list of the playoff drivers who did finish Sunday’s race than those who did not, so it’s hard to say there was just one driver who came out of Sunday as a loser. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a great chance to improve his place on the leaderboard with a good finish Sunday – instead, he didn’t finish and ended up 26th. It’ll take a miraculous string of events for him to make the Round of Eight now. Other drivers who took a hit on Sunday were Kyle Busch, who in the span of two weeks has gone from championship contender to the cusp of elimination, and Jimmie Johnson, who finished 24th and now is in danger himself. Essentially, Talladega did what it always does in shaking up the standings. The only difference is that this year, there’s another race for drivers to save themself, next week at Kansas.

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David T. Foster III

dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Alabama 500 results

The full race results, from the Associated Press:

NASCAR Monster Energy Cup

Sunday

At Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega, Ala.

Lap length: 2.66 miles

*Reason out: 1-accident, 2-garage.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 131.661 mph.

Time of Race: 3 hours, 47 minutes, 52 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.210 seconds.

Caution Flags: 11 for 47 laps.

Lead Changes: 30 among 16 drivers.

Lap Leaders: D.Earnhardt 0; J.Logano 1-13; D.Earnhardt 14-20; C.Elliott 21-25; M.Kenseth 26-29; A.Allmendinger 30; J.Logano 31-54; B.Keselowski 55-57; K.Kahne 58-61; M.Kenseth 62-63; D.Hamlin 64-66; M.Kenseth 67; K.Kahne 68; B.Gaughan 69-70; M.DiBenedetto 71-82; R.Stenhouse 83-88; Ku.Busch 89-91; R.Blaney 92-111; R.Newman 112; B.Gaughan 113-116; D.Hamlin 117; R.Blaney 118-124; C.Elliott 125-144; Ky.Busch 145-148; J.Logano 149-170; D.Suarez 171-176; C.Elliott 177; D.Suarez 178-182; B.Keselowski 183-185; R.Newman 186-187; B.Keselowski 188

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): J.Logano, 3 times for 56 laps; R.Blaney, 2 times for 25 laps; C.Elliott, 3 times for 23 laps; M.DiBenedetto, 1 time for 11 laps; D.Suarez, 2 times for 9 laps; D.Earnhardt, 2 times for 6 laps; R.Stenhouse, 1 time for 5 laps; M.Kenseth, 3 times for 4 laps; B.Keselowski, 3 times for 4 laps; B.Gaughan, 2 times for 4 laps; K.Kahne, 2 times for 3 laps; Ky.Busch, 1 time for 3 laps; D.Hamlin, 2 times for 2 laps; Ku.Busch, 1 time for 2 laps; R.Newman, 2 times for 1 lap; A.Allmendinger, 1 time for 0 laps.

Wins: M.Truex, 6; Ky.Busch, 4; K.Larson, 4; J.Johnson, 3; B.Keselowski, 3; D.Hamlin, 2; R.Stenhouse, 2; R.Blaney, 1; Ku.Busch, 1; A.Dillon, 1; K.Harvick, 1; K.Kahne, 1; J.Logano, 1; R.Newman, 1.

Top 16 in Points: 1. M.Truex, 3120; 2. B.Keselowski, 3101; 3. K.Larson, 3096; 4. K.Harvick, 3089; 5. D.Hamlin, 3088; 6. C.Elliott, 3087; 7. R.Blaney, 3076; 8. J.Johnson, 3074; 9. Ky.Busch, 3067; 10. M.Kenseth, 3066; 11. R.Stenhouse, 3052; 12. J.McMurray, 3045; 13. K.Kahne, 2104; 14. R.Newman, 2103; 15. A.Dillon, 2099; 16. Ku.Busch, 2089.

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NASCAR Driver Rating Formula

A maximum of 150 points can be attained in a race.

The formula combines the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish.

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