Matt Kenseth wins crash-marred Sam Roadside 500
Talladega, AL, United States (4E Sports) – Matt Kenseth emerged unscathed from a 25-car crash in the final lap to rule the Sam Roadside Assistance 500 Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
“The track kept getting looser for me as the day went on and we never could get it tightened up,” said Kenseth, who posted his second victory of the season, his first at Talladega and the 23rd of his career.
Kenseth grabbed the lead on the final corner from Tony Stewart, who triggered the crash after he tried to block Michael Waltrip in the final corner.
“On the last lap, that’s why I chose the middle groove. I knew I couldn’t be on the bottom or I’d get spun out, so I had to run the middle or the top to try to make a move,” Kenseth added.
Jeff Gordon finished second, followed by Kyle Busch, David Ragan and Greg Biffle. Regan Smith, Keselowski, Travis Kvapil, Ryan Newman and Jeff Burton rounded out the top 10.
Despite the win, Kenseth is 62 points behind leader Brad Keselowki, who also escaped the crash and finished seventh to extend his lead over Jimmie Johnson by 14 points with six races remaining in the season
“That’s pretty big,” Keselowski said. “I just feel lucky to survive Talladega. There’s still a lot of racing left. At least we’re not fighting from a hole.”
Johnson was among several Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders involved in the crash, together with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. He finished 17th while Kahne and Earnhardt finished 12th and 20th, respectively.
“It’s my fault,” Stewart said. “I take 100 percent of the blame. I was trying to win the race and stay ahead and Michael got a big head of a steam. I turned down across the front of his car. It was a mistake on my part, but it made for a bad day for a lot of other guys.”
Before the big crash, only three small crashes involving a handful of drivers occurred during the first 188 laps of the race.
One of them was Kurt Busch, who ran out of fuel while in the lead pack and spun down the backstretch.
As safety workers tried to tend to the stalled car, Busch restarted it and drove away without wearing his helmet, rendering him unable to heed to demands of NASCAR officials to stop. Busch could face further discipline from NASCAR for what he did.
“I guess they were telling me to stop,” said Busch. “That’s the competitor in me and the desire I have to stay in a race and keep going. I was hoping to get it back in the garage to work on it, and NASCAR started yelling at me and I didn’t have my helmet on and couldn’t hear them.”