Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Brad Keselowski pulls off a big push to beat Sprint Cup field at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. — The leader on the last lap isn't supposed to win at Talladega Superspeedway. Everybody knows that.

Brad Keselowski disagrees, and he showed how to do it Sunday with a calculated plan.

Keselowski used a big push from Kyle Busch to pass leader Matt Kenseth, and after leaving the Daytona 500 winner in their wake, Keselowski staved off Busch's attempt to win. Using a move Keselowski said he had dreamed about, he held on for his second win of the season and second career at Talladega.

"I had this whole plan if I ever got in that situation where I was leading. I thought about it and thought about it, dreamed about what to do, and sure enough, going into (Turn) 3, it was just me and Kyle," Keselowski said. "I knew the move I wanted to pull. It worked because the guy running second should have the advantage, but I had this move all worked up in my mind."

Keselowski was the first driver in the past five races at Talladega to take the white flag as the leader and hang on. He did it with a plan that left Busch and Kenseth flat-footed, and after the race both praised Keselowski, who made his big splash in NASCAR by winning the spring race at Talladega in 2009, pulling off an upset for James Finch's underfunded team.

"He's no dummy, that's for sure," said Busch, who finished second for the second consecutive day, including the Nationwide series race.

Kenseth led seven times for a race-high 73 laps and also led coming into a race-ending green-white-checkered restart.

A nine-car accident with four laps remaining brought out the yellow flag. Kenseth, with a push from Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, jumped to a huge lead on the restart.

It was probably too big.

Kenseth and Biffle got separated, and with two-car tandem racing still the fastest way around Talladega despite all of NASCAR's rules aimed at ending it, the Keselowski-Busch tandem sailed past Kenseth on the outside.

"I think we had the winning car, really just didn't have the winning driver," Kenseth said. "I wasn't too fast. I was just too stupid, I guess, at the end to keep a win."

The last wreck was the last of five cautions in a clean race by restrictor-plate standards. Defending series champ Tony Stewart, who was collected in AJ Allmendinger's accident, had a ready response for those clamoring for pack racing and complaining about a relative lack of action in recent races.

"I'm upset that we didn't crash more cars," said Stewart, who finished 24th and co-owns his two-car Stewart-Haas team. "That's what we're here for. I feel bad if I don't spend at least $150,000 in torn-up race cars going back to the shop. We've definitely got to do a better job at that."

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