NASCAR Race Review: Aaron’s 499

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Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was in Alabama this weekend for the Aaron’s 499 race at the Talladega Superspeedway. Talladega Superspeedway is a massive 2.66 mile track that lends itself to high speeds with no letting off of the throttle. It also lends itself to multi-car pile-ups because they are going so fast, inches apart. NASCAR mandates a restrictor-plate on the cars to cut horsepower and therefore, speed. They race around in large packs three wide, many deep. Which lends itself to spectacular crashing. The drivers figured out that if you get a partner to push you around the track, you can outrun the pack. NASCAR race fans like their crashing, so NASCAR is doing what it can to bring back the pack racing and not have them racing two by two for very long by changing the opening in the grill so they will overheat sooner. (I have to wonder how they will be able to race in a pack if they will be overheating in the middle of the pack.)

Coors Light Pole Qualifying took place on Saturday and 24 Jeff Gordon tried a different line around the track and captured the Pole with a speed of 191.624 mph and 49.973 seconds around the track. 22 A. J. Allmendinger will start on the front row with him. J. J. Yeley was the lone driver that did not qualify for the Aaron’s 499 race. Every six years on May 6, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wins the race. This race is on May 6. Can he keep this record up? You don’t want to be leading on the last lap, as the driver pushing you will let go and beat you to the Line. There have been a lot  of first time winners at Talladega Superspeedway. Will another driver win for the first time? They are drying the track as the race is set to start. Comedian Ron White starts the engines.

So, here we go! 24 Jeff Gordon starts the race on the outside, 9 Marcos Ambrose with 39 Ryan Newman pushing gets by 24. 17 Matt Kenseth pushes 14 Tony Stewart to lead the first lap. 39 leads the outside lane. 29 Kevin Harvick is on the outside, moving forward.

The first caution comes out when 78 Regan Smith, running in a tight pack, has the engine let go. 17 and 14 come out of the pits first. 22 A. J. Allmendinger is too fast on pit road. 15 Clint Bowyer stalls the car and has to reset everything to get it going. 38 David Gilliland is caught speeding. 93 Travis Kvapil and 27 Paul Menard each led a lap before heading to pit road.

17 restarts on the outside with team mate 16 Greg Biffle right behind. They move down to lead the race. 9 pushes 14 and 14 drops behind leader 17. They are racing four wide in the pack! 48 Jimmie Johnson is leading the middle line. 9 gets stuck on top with no help. 11 Denny Hamlin pushes 55 Michael Waltrip into the lead. 11 gets out of line and finds himself in 14th place. 39 is overheating and heads for the pits. It is an oil pump, so he goes to the garage. 48 and 55 race for the lead with the two lines coming together. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pushes 48 into the lead and they both move to the inside lane. 17 takes the lead, moves up to 24 and they both go down in front of 48. 11 makes a pit stop by himself. The stop is too slow and he goes a lap down.

Others pit together to start Green Flag Pitting. 31 Jeff Burton leads a lap before pitting. 48 leads after the pitting. 48 is blowing up with another oil pump problem and heads for the garage. 88 leads the way to the delight of the fans. 17 drives under 88 to take the lead. 24 is in the middle of the pack with the water gage flashing. (Looks like trying to get rid of the tandem racing is only causing problems in the pack.)

5 Kasey Kahne takes the lead and they are back to pack racing. 17 takes the lead. 5 takes the lead back. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya takes the lead. 2 Brad Keselowski and 22 pit together to start Green Flag Pitting again. 27 leads a lap before pitting. 29 is leading after the pitting. 16 takes the lead. 51 Kurt Busch in the Ricky Bobby paint scheme takes the lead. (The crew chief announces: new leader, Ricky Bobby.) 17 takes the lead. 16 gets by 51 for second. 51 retakes the lead and moves down. 17 and 16 get by 51 for the lead. 16 gets shuffled back. 29 is on top slowing down. 31 runs out of fuel. They start another round of Green Flag Pitting. 51 is on the apron, out of fuel.

The second caution is The Big One. 47 Bobby Labonte runs out of gas with 18 leading. Everyone bunches up. 43 Aric Almirola is on the bottom and moves up into 36 Dave Blaney and 42. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. gets caught in it and slides down into 24 who is low to avoid the mess. 20 Joey Logano, 32 Terry Labonte, 93, 83 Landon Cassill and 99 Carl Edwards are also caught up in it. 43 was out of fuel on the apron and tried to get back up onto the track. (Are you happy now, NASCAR race fans?) 27 comes off pit road as the caution comes out to lead. 17, 9 and 51 pit before pit road is open and will have to restart dead last.

They restart with 38 laps to go. 2 takes the lead. 11 takes the lead. 17 pushes 13 Casey Mears into the lead. 11 retakes the lead. 13 leads. 11 is back in the lead. 15 takes the lead. 11 takes the lead back. 2 pushes 17 into the lead. The third caution comes out when 13 has a tire going down and wobbles in front of 9, spins and comes down the track and clips 21 Trevor Bayne. 5 manages to get by. 29 Kevin Harvick gets his lap back. 31 stays on the lead lap.

They restart with nine laps to go and 17 leading. 29 pushes 14 on the outside. The fourth caution comes out when 51 gets bumped in the corner by 2. He slides down the infield and into the wall. The caution comes out while he is sliding. He drives down pit road, going the wrong way. The B-post holding the window net on 17 is cracked.

They restart the race with four laps to go and the fifth caution comes out on the restart. 17 is on the outside with 16 right behind. 11 moves to the middle and 22 tries to block, spinning 27. 29 gets into 1 Jamie McMurray. 55 gets into 20. 15 and 55 get together. 88 gets by. 5 once again gets by, his third miss. 2 is worried about fuel and drives on the apron. 11 car is falling apart from a tire rub. 17 has fender damage.

This will be the first attempt at a Green White Checker Finish with 17 leading on the outside. 16 pushes 17 and they both go to the bottom. 18 pushes 2 on the outside past 17 and 16 who get disconnected, so aren’t close enough to each other to try to fight for the lead.

The White Flag comes out with 2 leading. 18 figures he will win, as he is pushing the leader and can pull out at the last second to win. (Like Joey did to him on Saturday.) As they come around the fourth corner, 2 turns left to break the connection and takes off, leaving 18 too far away to challenge.

2 Brad Keselowski wins the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. No one remembers who finished second. Nineteen cars were taken out in this race. So, I guess it was a great show for the fans. There were sixteen different leaders, with 17 Kenseth leading the most. 194 laps had to be raced, making it the Aaron’s 516!

2 Keselowski was followed by 18 Kyle Busch, 17 Matt Kenseth, 5 Kasey Kahne, 16 Greg Biffle, 15 Clint Bowyer, 34 David Ragan, 21 Trevor Bayne, 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and 31 Jeff Burton for the top ten. In Championship points, Greg Biffle remains in first place, seven points ahead of Matt Kenseth who moved up two spots after leading the most laps and finishing third. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Denny Hamlin each fall a spot to third and fourth, while Kevin Harvick climbs two spots into fifth. Martin Truex, Jr. and Tony Stewart swap sixth and seventh places. Jimmie Johnson falls two spots into eighth. Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer each move up two spots into ninth and tenth. Carl Edwards falls two spots, out of the top ten, into eleventh and Brad Keselowski moves up one place into the top twelve.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.

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