TALLADEGA, Ala. — Brad Keselowski won a demolition derby at Talladega Superspeedway, where multiple wrecks caused two cars to go airborne and led to millions of dollars in damage to race teams.
Keselowski's cruise to the checkered flag was anticlimactic in Sunday's Geico 500 compared to all the other trouble.
"Racing has always been that balance of daredevils and chess players, this has always been more of a daredevil-type track," Keselowski said.
Choosing the top lane for a restart on Lap 186 of 188 on the 2.66-mile track, Keselowski powered his No. 2 Team Penske Ford past Kurt Busch with two laps left and crossed the finish line as a gaggle of cars wrecked behind him coming to the stripe.
With his 19th career victory, Keselowski became the fourth two-time winner of 2016 and cemented a spot in the Chase for the Championship.
Chris Buescher's car flipped three times in an early crash, and Matt Kenseth was turned upside down in the waning laps. In Kenseth's accident, Danica Patrick hit hard, nose-first, into an energy-absorbing wall that seemed to buckle upon impact. She appeared shaken.
"I would say that's probably the most scared, trying to hop out of a car with the fire on the inside. I haven't had fire on the inside before," the former IndyCar driver said. "I have a pretty decent bruise on my arm and my foot, and my head feels like I hit a wall at 200. My chest hurts when I breathe."
NASCAR's box score showed 35 of the 40 cars were involved in some sort of accident. Only 21 cars finished on the lead lap.
Second-place Kyle Busch said he once looked in his rearview mirror and only saw four cars without some sort of damage.
"I hate it. I'd much rather be at home," said Kyle Busch, the reigning Sprint Cup champion. "I don't need to be here."
Austin Dillon finished a career-high third and said he enjoyed the race, though it was nerve-wracking. Dillon was in his own horrific crash at Daytona last July and said the style of racing at restrictor-plate tracks creates an atmosphere of danger.
"We all have to do it. I don't know how many really love it," Dillon said. "I know our moms, wives and girlfriends don't like it. We don't like to be part of crashes."
Rain was forecast, increasing the urgency of Sunday's race. Once the race hit halfway, making it official, drivers tried to charge to the front because they couldn't afford to hang back and risk having rain end the race.
"I really don't know why we're bumping and pushing and everything else, because these cars, they go slower when you push," Kyle Busch said. "Makes a lot of sense.
"That's how stupid we are."