Talladega Super Speedway usually provides fans with a lot of excitement. Much of that comes at times other than when cars are on the track, but I’ll get to that later. Yesterday’s race provided excitement for many fans but disaster for multiple drivers. Only Brad Keselowski and the 2 Miller Lite Dodge team were completely satisfied when the Checkered Flag flew at the end of the Aaron’s 499.
Keselowski maneuvered his way through traffic at just the right times, especially when it mattered most. At the final restart of the race, Keselowski was second to leader Matt Kenseth, who chose the outside lane to receive drafting help from his teammate, Greg Biffle. As expected, the 17 Best Buy Ford of Kenseth and the 16 3M Ford of Biffle shot to the lead. Kenseth had run much of the race in front, and it appeared that he would hang on to the lead with only two laps remaining. However, Keselowski received a huge push from Kyle Bush in the 18 m&m’s Toyota. Those two drivers vaulted to the front before the end of restart lap and never looked back.
In Saturday’s Nationwide race, Busch was leader heading to the Checkered Flag, but lost the lead to his drafting partner and Sprint Cup Series teammate, Joey Logano, in the final few feet. It apeard on Sunday, that Busch would avenge that Nationwide loss with the slingshot move (More on that also later) that was used against him. Unfortunately for Busch and surprisingly for most of us, Keselowski drove away from Busch and easily won the race.
This was the second win of the season for Keselowski. With those trips to Victory Lane, he holds the first Wild Card spot for the Sprint Cup Chase. However, it’s unlikely that the Wild Card will be necessary for Keselwoski. He sits just three points out of the 10th place spot, and with the way he has developed as a driver, Keselwoski will easily be inside the Top Ten at the end of the year.
Those of you that have watched the move Talladega Nights know that “Slingshot Engage” is one of the phrases used by Will Ferrell’s character, Ricky Bobby. (Those of you that haven’t watched the move, should). It is derived from the move used by drivers when drafting together. As two cars race nose to tail, the second car can pick up enough speed and momentum to pull out and pass the first car. It’s the move I mentioned above that cost Busch the race on Saturday and Keselowski was able to avoid on Sunday.
Besides the move being a key part of this real Talladega weekend, the phrase “Slingshot Engage”, other lines and a paint scheme from the movie were also relevant. Kurt Busch, driver of the unsponsored 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet, paid to have his car wrapped with the ME paint scheme from Talladega Nights. Busch also included the Armed Forces Foundation in order to raise money for the great cause. To the right is a picture tweeted by the elder Busch… “Shake And Bake.”
- Danica Patrick made her way around the famous Talladega infield on Friday night. She tweeted a few pictures of fans along her journey. Although she collected some beads, Danica, unfortunately, didn’t truly earn them.
- The weather was HOT during the weekend. That helped contribute to engine over-heating issues for many drivers during Sunday’s race. Jeff Gordon was one that dealt with a hot engine all race. After he was crashed out of the event (continuing his worst season ever), Gordon stated in his interview that NASCAR needs to open up the grill to allow better air flow for the cars, since the pack racing is back at Talladega.
- Speaking of HOT, Tony Stewart was En Fuego after the race. As usual when he doesn’t win, Stewart was upset. This time, Stewart’s rant may have repercussions from NASCAR. Check out his comments in this story from USAToday.
- Early in the race, Matt Kenseth was near the front and in the lead soon after the Green Flag dropped. Kenseth was successful at staying there all afternoon with very aggressive driving. He was blocking, and pushing in order to not get shuffled to the middle or the back of the pack. It almost provided a win and allowed him to lead the most laps.
- A lack of Cautions has been a concern all year, and it appeared this would be the case also at Talladega. Through 140 laps, there was only one caution. That all changed, as NASCAR’s largest track provided four more Cautions in the final 53 laps.