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posted October 15, 2017
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Keselowski Wins Wild One at Talladega
Furnished by NASCAR
By Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter
TALLADEGA, Ala.--Brad Keselowski was able to miss all the wrecks and made a last lap pass on Ryan Newman to win Sunday's 188-lap Cup Series race as a crowd of over 150,000 wild fans watched.
   It was not a good day for the Chase contenders, as only two of them were running when the race ended.
   It wasn't much better for the non-contenders. There were only ten of them left on the track when the checkered flag was given.
   Keselowski won Stage One, but had problems with his radio about midway of the race. He pitted for repairs, which put him at the back of the field. A series of cautions and three red flag periods during the last 35 laps allowed him to work his way back to the front of the field.
   On the race's last restart, with three laps remaining, he was lined up in the sixth position. Kyle Busch was the leader. Ryan Newman powered his way around Busch and for the next lap Keselowski worked for position. Finally, as the cars entered turn-3, on the last lap, Keselowski made a run on the outside, and before the field reached the finish line, he was leading.
   “I don't know how I survived,” said Keselowski. “We had a great car and made the right moves to win. But luck was there too.”
   Ryan Newman was second, followed by: Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Gray Gaulding, and David Ragan.
   There were 11 cautions for 47 laps and three red flags. A total of 47 cars were involved in wrecks, including some that were in two or three different ones.
   Jamie McMurray, a Chase contender was the first driver out of the race. He was bumped from behind during lap 25, and knocked into the outside wall.
   “That definitely hurt our Chase hopes,” said McMurray. “It means we've got to win next week if we are to make the cut.”
   The “big wreck” came during lap 173 and took out 16 cars.
   During lap 179 another big one happened involving six cars. Kevin Harvick had been in three previous wrecks, but this one took him out of contention.
   “It was a bad weekend,” said Harvick who qualified 22nd. “We were on defense all day. We couldn't make anything happen, couldn't get position, and couldn't do what we needed to do.”
   The last wreck and red flag period came on lap 183, and involved Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne.
   Suarez was leading and got into the No 24 of Chase Elliott as he attempted to pass. Both cars hit the wall. Larson, who was running the bottom line was also out of it.
   “I had a run and I guess he (Suarez) didn't see me coming,” said Elliott. “Our car was good, the team did a good job, and I just wish we could have been there at the end.”
   Clint Bowyer got tangled up twice. After the second one, he had a problem with his car and parked it on pit road. He climbed out, exchanged words with his crew chief, and went to his motor home, leaving his No. 14 car sitting in the team's pit area. He wound up 35th.
   Dale Earnhardt Jr. had one of his better races of the season. Even though he only managed a seventh-place finish, he started on the pole and led seven laps. Kay Ivey, the Alabama Governor, proclaimed October 15, 2017 as “Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day”.
   Top-12 Chase leaders: 1. Truex-3120, 2. Keselowski-3101, 3. Larson-3096, 4. Harvick-3089, 5. Hamlin-3088, 6.Elliott-3087, 7. Blaney-3076, 8. Johnson-3074, 9. Kyle Busch-3067, 10. Kenseth-3066, 11. Stenhouse-3052, 12. McMurray-3045.
   These 12 drivers will have their points reset next week after the Kansas race, and the field will be reduced to eight drivers.
   Parker Kligerman got his second career Truck Series victory, leading the final two laps on an overtime restart at Talladega Superspeedway.
   “Every move worked perfectly,” said Kligerman. “When I go back and look at it, I'll look at those moves, some of the hardest to make are when you are in the bottom and you're running the top five and you don't really have a partner and you're trying to stop or block that top lane or get that momentum of that top lane. All I think about these speedway races is literally the last three laps and what I'm going to see out of the right rear of my truck because the move that you make to win these races 90 percent of the time is that.”
   The remaining top-10: Christopher Bell, Myatt Snider, Grant Enfinger, Austin Cindric, John Nemechek, Vinnie Miller, Clay Greenfield, Matt Crafton, and Tyler Young.
   The Truck Series Chase field has been reset to six drivers with four to go: 1. Bell-3047, 2. Sauter-3027, 3. Crafton-3014, 4. Nemechek-3014, 5. Rhodes-3013, 6. Cindric-3007.
   The field will be reset again after the November 10th Phoenix race to four drivers. The highest finishing driver at Homestead on November 17th will win the championship.
   Chase Elliott has yet to win a Cup Series race after almost two years. He's come close six different times, and each week his first visit to victory lane gets closer. He led 28 laps in last Sunday's Talladega race, and appeared to have the fastest car near the end, before being taken out by a wreck.
     Many of his racing fans thought a win was right around the corner, but that hasn't been the case. He's still seeking that elusive number one. He started off his inaugural season in 2016 in the No. 24 car previously driven by four-time champion Jeff Gordon, who retired following the 2015 season. Elliott took the pole at the Daytona 500 and then raced his way into the Chase for the Cup Series championship, becoming only the third rookie to ever make the series playoffs.
   He started the first race of the Cup Series Playoffs at Chicagoland Speedway in eighth and quickly broke into the top-five during the opening 80-lap stage. He took the Stage 1 green-checkered flag in third.
   “It's been a solid start,” said Elliott. “Obviously we'd like to pick up one spot, but overall just the way we've been running since the playoffs started has been refreshing, and definitely makes it a lot of fun to come to the track and know that our car is going to drive pretty good, our pit stops have been really nice, and now is definitely the time of year to do that. So hopefully we can carry it forward, what, five or six more weeks and see what it's got to offer.”
   His last and sixth runner-up finish came at Charlotte two weeks ago and was his 19th top-five finish in 71 Cup Series starts.
   “The way we've run over the past two weeks is definitely refreshing,” he said. “We hope that we can keep running like we are, and like I said a minute ago, if we can, then opportunities will definitely be there.”
   He isn't entirely at fault for his lack of Cup victories, because Chevrolet teams and Rick Hendrick Motorsports in particular, haven't been setting the world on fire with their performances.
   Winning a race during this round of the Chase is still the goal and if he can pull it off, he'd automatically advance to the next round.
Weekend Racing: The Cup and Xfinity teams will be at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. The trucks have an off week.
Sat., Oct. 21, Xfinity Series race 30 of 33; Starting time: 3 pm ET; TV: NBC.
Sun., Sept. 22, Cup Series race 31 of 36; Starting time: 3 pm ET; TV: NBCSN.
   Racing Trivia Question: Which is the smallest track on the NASCAR Cup circuit?
   Last Week's Question: Which Cup team does Ryan Blaney drive for? Answer. The Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford.
   Gerald Hodges is a syndicated NASCAR writer and author. His books may be viewed and ordered online at You may contact him by e-mail at: