Mark Thompson

Brad Keselowski wins Stage 1 of Alabama 500 at Talladega

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Brad Keselowski won Stage 1 of the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in a one-lap sprint following a late caution.

Keselowski edged out his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano to lead his only lap in the stage. The shootout was caused by a caution when Paul Menard hit the wall with five laps left in the stage.

The top 10 through 55 laps is Keselowski, Logano, Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Michael McDowell, Kurt Busch, Trevor Bayne and Kasey Kahne.

Logano led 37 laps.

There were two cautions for accidents in the stage.

The first caution came out on Lap 26 as a number of Chevrolet cars attempted to pit in a group. Jamie McMurray, a playoff driver, was slowing down to move to the apron when he was hit from behind by Erik Jones. The impact sent McMurray shooting to the outside wall where he collided with Jeffrey Earnhardt.

The impact with Earnhardt caused McMurray’s No. 1 Chevrolet to become briefly airborne. McMurray,  Earnhardt and Jones were eliminated. Kyle Busch was also involved. McMurray will finish in 37th.

“We wanted to pit a couple of laps earlier, and you’re somewhat dependent on the spotters to tell you when you’re going to pit,” McMurray told NBC. “You assume everyone is working as a group. It was my fault. I assumed that they said the 18 was going to let me in, so I thought we were all going to pit. I didn’t even know where the 77 was. When I got on the brakes, I thought we were all coming to pit road as a group. I’ll take the blame for that. I just kind of assumed we were coming to pit road right there. Obviously not everyone was.”

Mark Thompson was also involved and eliminated from the race.

Six drivers, including pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Austin Dillon and Michael McDowell, were penalized for pitting too early.

Earnhardt, who led seven laps in the stage, was penalized again during the caution for Menard for speeding on pit road. He finished the stage in 27th.

The second incident was Menard hitting the wall with five laps left in the stage.

Stage 2 of the 188-lap race will end on Lap 110.

Jamie McMurray takes big hit to playoff advancement hopes in Talladega wreck

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Jamie McMurray came into today’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in the final transfer spot for the upcoming Round of 8.

Unfortunately, McMurray will likely leave Talladega below the transfer line heading to the cutoff race next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

McMurray was involved in a five-car wreck on Lap 27. He was attempting to come to pit road when he was pushed from behind by Erik Jones, turned hard right into the wall and collected Jeffrey Earnhardt, Mark Thompson and Chris Buescher.

“It was my fault, I had assumed (Kyle Busch) was going to let me in, I didn’t even know where (Jones) was,” McMurray said. “We were all coming to pit road as a group and I’ll take the blame for that.

“There’s nothing you can do about it, right? It’s part of Talladega and we know you can come out of here with a lot of points and be a winner, or come out in the position we’re in now, go to Kansas and do our best.”

Added Erik Jones:  “(Kyle Busch) started checking up in front of me and swerved, and (McMurray) was basically stopped on the track, it looked like he was trying to get from the top of the racetrack to the bottom. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we could really do. It’s just one of those things that happens here.”


Kevin Harvick among four drivers starting at the rear today at Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Alabama — Kevin Harvick is among four drivers who will start at the rear of the 40-car field for unapproved adjustments, NASCAR announced.

Also moving to the rear will be Kurt Busch, Mark Thompson and DJ Kennington

Harvick was to have started 22nd. Busch was to have started fourth. Thompson was to have started 36th and Kennington was 40th.

66-year-old Mark Thompson to make first Cup start in 25 years Sunday at Talladega

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Veteran race car driver Mark Thompson will make his first start in a NASCAR Cup race in more than a quarter-century in Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The 66-year-old Thompson, of Cartersville, Georgia, will drive the No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet. Veteran crew chief Tommy Baldwin will be atop the pit box.

It will be Thompson’s second career Cup start. In his Cup debut, he finished 39th at Pocono in 1992

“Talladega is my most favorite track in all of NASCAR,” Thompson said. “It’s convenient to my home which is in Cartersville, Ga., and it’s only about 75 miles from my home.

“As a pilot, I can fly over there quite quickly and easily. I like the track, it’s just an enjoyable place to drive. I’ve driven about 20 to 30 races at Talladega over my career in the ARCA and Xfinity Series and I’m looking forward to getting in the 15 Cup car this weekend”.

The U.S. Army veteran and pilot will be sponsored by Phoenix Air, an international charter flight service, which is based in Cartersville.

Thompson, a veteran of the ARCA Series, became the oldest pole winner (63 years old) at Daytona International Speedway for the season-opening ARCA race there in 2015.

The Alabama 500 takes the green flag Sunday at 2 pm ET and will be televised on NBC.

Multi-car crashes impact end of Xfinity race at Daytona (video)

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Two multi-car crashes impacted the end of Saturday’s Xfinity race won by William Byron.

The final crash, which collected five cars on the backstretch, caused the race to end under caution, as NASCAR didn’t throw the caution until after the leaders passed the overtime line on the backstretch. Once the leader passes that line in overtime, the race will not be restarted and will finish under caution.

Cars in that crash were Garrett Smithley, Ty Dillon, Mark Thompson, Spencer Gallgaher and Mike Harmon.

The race was stopped with three laps left after a crash on the backstretch. The red flag lasted 9 minutes, 46 seconds.

The incident started as Brandon Jones, running sixth, got hit from behind and sent into the backstretch wall and came across the track.

Ryan Reed, who won at Daytona in February, was among the cars ahead of the accident and then crashed in Turn 3 when he came down the track and was hit and turned.

Those collected were Justin Allgaier, Erik Jones, Brandon Jones, Matt Tifft, Casey Mears, Michael Annett, Timmy Hill and Cole Custer.