Brad Keselowski survived three major wrecks in the final 16 laps to win the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and advance to the third round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Keselowski passed Ryan Newman on the final turn of the last lap to secure the win.
“I survived,” Keselowski told NBC. “What a special day. We haven’t been as good a we want to be on the mile-and-a-halfs, so we knew we needed to come to Talladega and get it done. This is a great track for us and one we really enjoy coming to. It’s great to get a win here. No. 5. I never thought I would win at all at Talladega, but five times. Oh my gosh.”
The win was Keselowski’s third at Talladega since 2014, his fifth overall at the 2.66-mile track, and it came in his 300th Cup start.
Keselowski took his No. 2 Ford to victory lane despite having radio problems in the middle of the race that hampered communication with his team.
“You’ve got to have a little bit of luck in these races and you’ve got to be able to execute at the end,” Keselowski said.
Pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished seventh in his last Cup start at the speedway.
The paint scheme on Keselowski’s car was a tribute to Earnhardt. It was based on Keselowski’s paint scheme when he won his first two Xfinity races for JR Motorsports, which is co-owned by Earnhardt.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Brad Keselowski
STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: The 13 cars that finished on the lead lap. … Ryan Newman’s second-place finish is his best result in 32 Talladega starts, … Gray Gaulding finished a career-best ninth in his 26th start. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished in the top 10 in two of the last three races. They are his only top 10s in the last 15 races. … Joey Logano finished fourth despite suffering major damage in one of the three major wrecks late in the race.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Jamie McMurray was eliminated after a multi-car crash on Lap 26 as he and other Chevrolet drivers attempted to enter pit road. He finished 37th. …. Clint Bowyer finished 35th after being involved in a multi-car wreck on a restart with 33 to go …. Playoff contenders Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth were in a 17-car wreck with 16 laps to go. Kenseth and Harvick continued, but Harvick was eliminated in another wreck with 10 to go along with playoff contender Ryan Blaney and Danica Patrick. … Johnson was ruled out of the race by NASCAR for his team working on his car under the first red flag. He finished 24th … A third red flag was issued with five laps to go for a wreck with Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Chris Buescher and Kasey Kahne.
NOTABLE: Keselowski is the seventh driver to win in his 300th start … Team Penske has won four of the last five Talladega races. … The 17-car wreck with 16 laps to go brought out the red flag, which lasted 12 minutes and 30 seconds … The multi-car wreck with 10 laps to go caused a five minute and 45 second red flag. … The third red flag with five laps to go lasted 17 minutes and 14 seconds.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m glad I don’t have to do that again.” – Brad Keselowski after surviving three major wrecks and radio issues to win.
WHAT’S NEXT: Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on Oct. 22 on NBCSN.