NASCAR: Brad Keselowski Perfects Last Lap Drafting Defense at Talladega
Superspeedway racing in NASCAR may often lead to unpredictable faces in victory lane, but its manifestation itself has been predictable for years now.
Thanks to restrictor plates, the cars usually run in one big pack, often leading to major accidents at a simple lane change at the wrong time. Over the past few years, the idea of the two-car tandem draft has also emerged, with one driver carefully (but blindly) pushing another to the front.
The one constant, however, has been the opportunity for a slingshot pass on the last lap, especially with the two-car drafts taking prevalence. In fact, the driver who led the penultimate lap of a Talladega Sprint Cup race failed to take the victory in all four races in the past two years.
But on Sunday, Brad Keselowski figured out a way to combat the slingshot.
On the last green-white-checkered restart, Keselowski and Kyle Busch worked together to pull ahead of the pack, opening up a decent lead during the final two laps. But coming off the race's final corners, Keselowski hatched a plan. He dipped slightly to the inside of Busch's line, allowing the cars to come unhooked.
"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) three, it was just me and Kyle," Keselowski told reporters after the race.
But coming out of Turn 4, Keselowski had opened up a significant advantage. His margin of victory, .304 seconds, was the second largest at Talladega since NASCAR implemented electronic scoring in 1993.
"I must have screwed something up, because we got to Turn 3 and came unhooked," a dumbfounded Busch said after the race.
"I knew the move I wanted to pull," Keselowski continued. "It worked because the guy running second should have the advantage, but I had this move all worked up in my mind."
Keselowski heads out of Talladega 12th in points, three points out of the 10th place position that will carry bonus points from his two wins into the Chase. The rest of the field, however, will take something else from Talladega: the knowledge that it's possible to carry the lead into the final lap and bring it home for the victory.
Oh, and Keselowski doesn't have to send anybody into the catchfence to take the win.
Quotes from the Associated Press were used to complete this story.
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