alabama 500

NASCAR America: Scan All from the Alabama 500 at Talladega

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“Ol’ Dega is giving me one last thrill.”

That’s the remark Dale Earnhardt Jr. made after he narrowly avoided being collected in the second of three wrecks in the final 16 laps of Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, his last start at the track.

It’s one of many highlights in the latest edition of “Scan All,” which documents the Alabama 500 at the restrictor-plate track.

In the above video, Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe relive the race, which ended with Keselowski’s sixth win at the track.

Here are more highlights from “Scan All.”

  • Listen to the communication of the No. 48 team as confusion breaks out over whether they can work on Jimmie Johnson‘s car during a red flag.
  • “It is a restrictor-plate race, so I’m not going to promise you anything.” – Brendan Gaughan after remarking he hoped his team wouldn’t have to make too many body repairs. He would be eliminated in a crash with 10 laps to go.
  • “Those stands are packed. They should get a free Dale Jr. autograph.” – Clint Bowyer on the large crowd that took in Earnhardt’s final Cup start at Talladega.
  • “Holy (expletive). What an idiot. That was the absolute stupidest (expletive) thing he’s ever done.” Kyle Busch after a crash involving Jame McMurray, Erik Jones and Jeffrey Earnhardt. The crash began when McMurray slowed down enter pit road and Jones ran into him.
  • Listen as Keselowski and his team struggle to communicate with each other do to a faulty radio system.
  • “How in the (expletive) did we wind up in the (expletive) back? (Expletive) stupid.” – Part of a tirade by Bowyer following a Lap 157 crash that collected him. Bowyer pulled his car into his pit box, exited it, had a brief exchange with his crew chief and walked back to the garage.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR Cup rookie Gray Gaulding earns career-best finish at Talladega

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There’s something about Talladega Superspeedway that seems to bring out the best in NASCAR Cup rookie Gray Gaulding.

The 19-year-old Virginia native earned his best Cup career finish in May at the 2.66-mile tri-oval track, when he completed all 191 laps and took home a 20th-place showing.

That all changed in Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega, as Gaulding bettered his career best with a ninth-place finish. In addition, it was only the second time in 24 starts this season that Gaulding has gone the entire distance, completing all 188 laps in Sunday’s race.

Driving the No. 83 BK Racing Toyota and starting from the 39th position, Gaulding earned Sunoco Rookie of the Race and the American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award for his ‘Dega showing.

“This is Talladega and this is why the stands are still packed,” Gaulding said in his post-race media release. “It got wild and I was on my toes but I never went into defense, I was pushing forward from the green flag.

“I cannot believe it, we’re leaving here with a top-10 in the Cup Series.”

Gaulding has long been a fan of Talladega, and having his father and grandfather in attendance Sunday made it all the more special, he said.

“I grew up watching these races, dreaming of these races, and our team was able to race with the best and bring home an awesome finish for our partners, team and fans.

“It was awesome to have my dad and my grandfather there this weekend. They’ve been my No. 1 supporters since the first time I strapped into a race car.”

Ten of top 12 finishers at Talladega weren’t remaining playoff contenders

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Perhaps the best example of the impact of the carnage that occurred in Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was that only two of the top 12 finishers were remaining NASCAR Cup playoff contenders.

Only race winner Brad Keselowski and sixth-place finisher Denny Hamlin wound up in the top 12. Kyle Larson was the next highest playoff contender with a 13th-place finish.

Hamlin regretted not pushing runner-up Ryan Newman enough in the closing laps. Hamlin felt that if he had, he would have finished higher.

“Maybe I should have pushed the 31 a little bit longer or passed him in a different spot. I was a foot shy of clearing him. And I knew if I could clear him, the runs were going to be real small because there was very few cars out there.

“I did what I wanted to do, push him out there to the lead, stay attached and then make a move, but I guess I didn’t do a very good job the last two laps. … You always want to win, screw the points.”

Newman saw the finish line ahead of him when he and Keselowski came out of the final turn, but the latter was too strong and Newman couldn’t keep up as they roared to the checkered flag.

“I’m really disappointed that we didn’t win,” Newman said. “When there’s only that many cars running, you want to be the guy. We were close but we just got double-teamed there. The 2 (Keselowski) and 22 (Penske teammate Joey Logano) hooked up and it was all I could do to try and stay in front of them.

“We’ll take it for what it’s worth and keep digging. I wish we were still in the playoffs, but we’re not and we’ll keep moving our way up if we can. … It is what it is.”

Even with significant right front damage from a wreck several laps earlier, fourth-place finisher Logano was a factor almost all the way to the end.

“I told the guys while we were sitting under the red flag that we can still win this thing,” Logano said. “They did a great job fixing this car. The car was fast from the get-go. And then I just got caught up in a stretch on the backstretch, and they fixed it up we had a never quit attitude, to just keep fighting and try to pull ourselves up to a spot to win.

“I pushed Brad to the lead and then I thought now it’s my turn to get to the lead, I want to win this thing. … I just really want to win at this point, so anything less than a win hurts.”

Kyle Busch leaves Talladega outside top eight in points after DNF

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Kyle Busch was one of the 17 drivers involved in a large crash with 16 laps to go in the Alabama 500 at Talladega.

As a result, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver finished 27th, giving him his second dismal race result in as many weeks. He finished 29th last week at Charlotte after multiple one-car incidents.

Busch’s fourth DNF of the season – and his first since the Brickyard 400 –  leaves him seven points behind Jimmie Johnson for the final transfer spot for the next round of the playoffs.

The pileup also included the playoff drivers of Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth.

“I had no clue what happened,” Busch said. “Unfortunately we just got messed up in that deal. I hate it for our situation and what we’ve got going on. That’s not what we needed today, but that’s what we got so we’ll just move on to next week.”

The second round of the playoffs conclude next Sunday at Kansas Speedway, where Busch has finished in the top five in his last five starts. That includes a win in the spring 2016 race.

Watch the above video for more from Kyle Busch.

Jimmie Johnson confused over NASCAR parking car after team worked on it during red flag

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Jimmie Johnson had the breath knocked out of him in a 17-car wreck with 16 laps left in Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, but that wasn’t his main concern after exiting his damaged No. 48 Chevrolet.

Johnson’s day was ended by NASCAR, a penalty for the team for working on his car during the 12 minute and 30 second red flag period that ensued from the wreck.

Johnson said his spotter had been given the signal that the team could begin working on the car.

“The thing I’m most concerned about is that there was a cue given to our spotter for our guys to start working on the car,” Johnson told NBC. “We went out and made a lap and advanced quite a few spots as a result. Now it looks like NASCAR is trying to take that away from us.

“Us and a few other cars heard the cue to allow the guys to start working when the red flag had finished but we didn’t get the cue on pit row. I’m still not clear on what all went on. I think we’re in a bad situation as a result. Hopefully, NASCAR can look at it and we can get this rectified.”

According to NASCAR, Johnson’s spotter heard officials say that drivers could restart their engines. The red flag had not been withdrawn. NASCAR announces on the radio – which all teams monitor – when it removes the red flag and brings out the yellow flag. It is not until then that teams can work on their cars. Johnson’s team started work before the red flag had been withdrawn.

Johnson finished 24th and leaves Talladega eighth in the playoffs standings. He is seven points ahead of Kyle Busch for the final transfer spot.

The seven-time champion ran in the top 10 most of the day, even after his car suffered right-rear damage from contact with Ty Dillon when he slowed to enter the pits early in Stage 2.

Johnson earned 10 stage points after finishing fifth in Stage 1 and seventh in Stage 2.

“Definitely valuable,” Johnson said of the stage points. “That was part of the plan coming in here, and I think the whole field kind of had that same mindset. We had a very fast Lowe’s Chevrolet even with it torn up after a couple of little incidents on the track. We were still in there mixing it up for the win.”

Johnson’s bad day only got worse after leaving Talladega. He was returning his rental car to a nearby airport and stepped right into a pile of red ants.