Best race ever!
That may be a slight exaggeration, but Talladega Superspeedway gave NASCAR fans a race to remember, from beginning to end.
Dale Earnhardt Jr had Junior Nation on its feet for a while but couldn’t get it done at the end. When Earnhardt and Michael Waltrip were up front racing together, it brought back fond memories of better days for both drivers.
Mike Davis, public relations representative for Earnhardt, summed it up best on twitter.
“Best part of this day,” he said, “was seeing old teammates race up front like the old days. Fun to watch. Crowd went nuts.”
The action was riveting and chances are you got to see your favorite driver up front at some point during the day.
Twenty-nine different drivers led, breaking the previous record of 28, set in Talladega in 2008.
There were a record-breaking 88 lead changes, the most since May 1984 at, you guessed it, Talladega.
It was a thrilling charge to the finish line. Three late race cautions took out some of the best cars, including Gordon, Burton, Biffle, and Johnson, just to name a few.
Tensions were heightened with three green-white-checker attempts.
On the last attempt, Kevin Harvick was glued to the bumper of Jamie McMurray who was in the lead.
Harvick waited for his chance, managed to get McMurray loose, and won the race by only .011 seconds.
It was the eighth closest finish since the inception of electronic scoring in 1993.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya finished second and third. Rounding out the top five were Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin.
Movers and Shakers:
You have to give Kevin Harvick credit for making the big move of the race. Timing is everything and he picked the perfect moment to slingshot past Jamie McMurray for the win.
Harvick scored his first win since the 2007 Daytona 500 and his 12th Cup career victory.
The win comes less than a week after sponsor Shell/Pennzoil announced its departure from Harvick's No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at the end of the season.
"It really played out perfect for us today," said Harvick.
"Our sponsor's leaving us, and the best part about it is that they can leave while we're winning.”
Kevin Harvick’s win moves him up two spots to second place, only 26 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray and Montoya all had outstanding runs and each gained four positions in the points standings.
Snoozers and Losers:
I don’t think anyone was snoozing during this race but there were definitely some disappointments.
Jeff Gordon’s day turned from good to bad when Jimmie Johnson forced him off the apron of the track on lap 183. Gordon then made contact with Scott Speed and his day went downhill from there.
Gordon lost five spots and falls to tenth in the points.
Brian Vickers was caught up in a late race collision, dropped six positions and now sits in a distant 25th place.
Heroes and Villains:
A big thank you to all the drivers and the magic of Talladega Superspeedway for giving NASCAR fans one of the best races we’ve seen in recent memory.
They provided us with a nail-biting, edge of your seat, excitement that we don’t see often enough.
Another big shout-out goes to the rivalry that’s heating up between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. It looks like the polished veneer of Hendrick Motorsports is showing a few cracks.
Gordon’s comments after the race left no doubt that these two have some unfinished business.
“The 48 is testing my patience, I can tell you that,” he said. “It takes a lot to make me mad, and I’m pissed right now.”
Don’t forget to tune in after each race for the next episode of Gordon versus Johnson.