The Underdogs Rise to the Occasion at Talladega

We saw it all at Talladega today! Rain, hail, lightning, upside down cars and an underfunded team taking the top two spots in the end. Yea, it was crazy to say the least. There’s no doubt that we witnessed an amazing race at Talladega that lasted 7:02:08 which included a 3 1/2 hour rain delay with 63 laps to go.

May 5, 2013; Talladega, AL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan (34) celebrates after winning the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The racing was fantastic and they were going three wide, 12 rows deep on the very first lap! That was definitely an indication of what was to come. On lap 44 though, everything went wrong when the big one occurred. Kyle Busch was trying to give Kasey Kahne a push and accidentally hooked him into the outside wall. Kasey came back across the track wiping out 16 cars in an instant. Big names that suffered major damage included Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Brian Vickers.

After that, the race settled down and on lap 124, the rain finally arrived. There was cloud to ground lightning, 1/8th inch hail, high winds and torrential rain sending fans and crews alike all looking for shelter. Carl Edwards was leading and it seemed like he had the victory in the bag but NASCAR refused to give up. They brought out the Air Titans and after 3 hours and 36 minutes, the red flag was lifted and we got ready to go racing again! Bobby Labonte led the field to the green in his 700th career NSCS start and kept it up there for about 10 laps which was really cool to see.

The field got very strung out after the final cycle of pit stops but with 13 to go, the caution flew for Michael McDowell blowing a right front and pounding the wall. The race became a 10 lap shootout with 25 drivers that still thought they could bring home the checkered flag. Matt Kenseth was leading with just 4 laps remaining and carnage unfolded behind him on the backstretch. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. attempted a risky 4 wide pass on the outside of JJ Yeley for 5th that didn’t work out sending the No.36 across the nose of Marcos Ambrose. He then hooked Kurt Busch sending the No.78 over and on its lid in a vicious 12 car incident. Kurt landed on top of Ryan Newman as cars piled in around them. The Labonte brothers, Danica Patrick, Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray were some of the cars destroyed in the melee.

Ryan Newman Following Scary Crash: “They can build safer racecars, they can build safer walls, but they can’t get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the racetrack, and that’s pretty disappointing. I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y’all can figure out who ‘they’ is. That’s no way to end a race. Our car was much better than that. That’s just poor judgment in restarting the race, poor judgment. I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain.”

On the restart, Matt Kenseth tried to hang on to the lead with a hard-charging Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards right behind him. Front Row Motorsport teammates David Ragan and David Gilliand quietly restarted 10th and 11th but the pair was about to make a lot of noise in the final 5 miles of the race. With Gilliland giving him a hell of a shove, the two rocketed through the middle of the pack and made their way up to 2nd spot with half a lap to go. Carl Edwards led and tried desperately to hold on with Ragan getting sideways off the nose of his teammate in a heart stopping moment but he kept his Ford Fusion pointed in the right direction thankfully. David Ragan jumped underneath Carl and was followed by his teammate through turns 3 in 4. As the field raced towards the finish line, Ragan blocked all the way to the outside wall and right down on the yellow line making sure no one got by and he succeeded winning his second career NSCS race.

It was one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR history with FRM finishing 1-2 after taking the big dogs of the sport head-on for the win. FRM owner Bob Jenkins and the team went ballistic when their cars crossed the line and looked on as David burned up the tires. Ragan, Gilliland and Jenkins all thanked the Lord after a truly miraculous result at Talladega for this little team that could. The 3rd FRM car in the race was driven by Josh Wise and he finished 19th which is a career best for him. X-Games Gold Medalist and former F1 driver Scott Speed was another feel good story finishing 9th for Leavine Family Racing.

Jimmie Johnson continues to lead the standings after his 5th place finish with Carl Edwards trailing by 41 points. By the way, Ragan now has a win and is 39pts away from the top 20….imagine if he could get there and possibly be in contention for a Wild Card! It was a spectacular event that had us all on the edge of our seats and I can’t wait for NASCAR to roar into Darlington next weekend!

 

 

Topics: Bob Jenkins, David Gilliland, David Ragan, Front Row Motorsports, NASCAR, Sprint Cup Series, Talladega

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