Brad Keselowski had a push-pull finish at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. He used a strong push from Kyle Busch to take the lead from Matt Kenseth, and then he pulled away from Busch during the final lap to win the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Kenseth led the race at the start of a green-white-checkered finish, but he put too much distance between himself and drafting partner Greg Biffle. That enabled Keselowski and Busch to sweep past Kenseth on the high side coming off Turn 4 entering the white-flag lap.
At that point, the expectation was that Busch would be able to attempt a pass on Keselowski coming through the tri-oval on the final lap. That was exactly what happed at Talladega Superspeedway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Saturday and the ARCA Racing Series on Friday, as the winner in both races made a last-second pass.
But before they reached the tri-oval, Keselowski was able to shake loose of Busch by drifting up toward the top of the track in Turn 3 and then dropping low entering Turn 4. That unexpected move enabled Keselowski to put enough distance between his car and Busch’s that Busch was unable to catch up.
“The guy running second should have the advantage, but I had this move all worked up in my mind,” Keselowski said. “I went into Turn 3 high and pulled down off of Kyle and broke the tandem up. That allowed me to drive untouched to the checkered flag. It wasn’t easy to convince myself to do that, but it was the right move.”
Busch finished second, followed by Kenseth in third, Kasey Kahne fourth, Biffle fifth, Clint Bowyer sixth, David Ragan seventh, Trevor Bayne eighth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ninth and Jeff Burton 10th.
The victory was the second for Keselowski at Talladega Superspeedway, but it was the first Sprint Cup win at the track for longtime car owner Roger Penske. It also was the first victory at Talladega for Dodge since Dave Marcis won at the track in 1976.
“We’ve been coming here since 1972. That’s a long time to get a race win. So this is certainly special,” Penske said. “(Keselowski) ran a perfect race. He stayed out of trouble, and when it was time to go he had it figured out.”
While Keselowski was praised for the way he handled the final two laps, both Kenseth and Busch lamented the mistakes they made that prevented them from making it to Victory Lane.
“We had a winning car, we just didn’t have the winning driver,” Kenseth said. “Greg was pushing me fast on that last restart. We got in front, I looked forward for a second, and when I looked back Greg and I were separated and he lost his speed. With me not paying attention, keeping us hooked up, it cost us a shot at the win. I just didn’t do a very good job of managing where he was on that last restart.”
As for Busch’s inability to remain hooked up with Keselowski on the final lap, Busch said, “We got to Turn 3 and came unhooked. I just gave the win away over there.”
The victory is the sixth for Keselowski in his Sprint Cup career, with four of the wins coming in the past 26 races, dating to last July. His first career Sprint Cup victory came at Talladega Superspeedway in the 2009 Aaron’s 499.
“Man, it feels good to win here in Talladega,” Keselowski said. “And the best is yet to come with this team.”
Courtesy Talladega Superspeedway Media Relations