Mother Nature once again pushed back the running of the NASCAR Nationwide race on Saturday to Sunday. That didn’t slow the action on Sunday, when the drivers hit the track for some of the best racing all year.
Check out the winners and losers of the Aaron’s 312.
Since Brad Keselowski’s move from JR Motorsports to Penske Racing,Keselowski in the NNS has been close to victory lane. In fact he finished second at Bristol Motor Speedway to his teammate Justin Allgaier.
Sunday was looking like more of the same, as Keselowski was able to push people to lead and be pushed, but he couldn’t hold it for long. Coming to the white flag he had dropped back, but a huge push from Joey Logano rocketed both of them in front of Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMuuray and Clint Bowyer, who were running one, two and three.
McMurray tried to block but was too late and attempted to get back line that set off a chain reaction crash. NASCAR ruled that the field had taken the white flag and Keselowski had won. Keselowski on Sunday did exactly what you are suppose to do and found himself in victory lane.
Richmond International Raceway has not been kind to him in the past. His average finish is 21.6 and his best finishes at the track came last year, where in both races he finished fourth. Each week this season Keselowski has been a factor for the win; I don’t expect that to change much on Friday night.
If you listened to the race broadcast on TV Sunday there was one driver never mentioned, Kenny Wallace. It’s easy to miss people at restrictor plate tracks with all the constant action going on, nut Wallace ran quite the race to finish 11th.
He had a good day for most until the last lap crash and crossed the finish line driving a wrecked race car. Wallace has gone week-to-week to get sponsorship for his cars. He has been doing it the hard way this season and deserved this spot this week.
Now heading to RIR, his average finish since 2005 is 25.3 but his average start is 24th. If he could qualify better that would help him a lot. With only two finishes of 30th or worse, he tends to run inside the top 20 most of the race.
I give Wallace a lot of credit; when most drivers would be frustrated by the economy they might reduce their schedule or not race at all. Wallace continues no matter what, that is one reason why he has so many fans.
John Borneman III
I have been writing this series now for two seasons and not once have I ever been able to talk about John Borneman III. He does not have many NNS starts and when he has run, he has not found a lot of success. With used equipment and an underfunded team, Borneman had a career best of fifth Sunday.
Like Wallace, he was another driver that nobody talked about. He spent most the race mid pack just riding around, which is the only thing you can do at Talladega. In the final lap when McMurray was turned Borneman avoided the wrecking and brought his car back in one piece.
The emotion was evident for Borneman, who just wants to race. He knows that the economy has dictated his future in the sport, so when he can get in car he competes. He may not ever finish in the top-five again, but Sunday’s results were a victory for himself, his team, and his family.
It’s interviews like that where the driver can barely control his emotions; it’s a reminder for all of us that while the “Kyle Busch’s” of NASCAR race every week, there is a guy like Borneman just praying to get a shot.
In the last couple restrictor plate races McMurray has proved he knows how to win. In his second week in the No. 88 car, McMurray ran up front or in the top 10 for most of the day.
It was his mistake coming to the checkered flag that cost him not only a top-five finish but caused a wreck that destroyed a lot of good race cars. He was running in second after taking the white flag. When the outside lane got a good run, he attempted to block the move but couldn’t. When he tried to get back in line Bowyer clipped him and sent him spinning.
That spin set off a wreck that saw a car in the air and on fire. McMurray took full responsibility for the wreck after the race. He finished 14th but could have finished a lot better.
His last NNS start at RIR was in 2007, he has an average finish of 22nd .He has no top-10 finishes at RIR, something he hopes to change this weekend.
While everyone has been talking about Denny Hamlin and his recovery from a torn ACL, the NNS has its own injured soldier in Steve Wallace, who has a broken foot and is still racing. His day was short on Sunday when he got swept up in the first big wreck of the race.
Wallace has not once complained about being in any discomfort, for he has gotten in the car every weekend. Sunday’s hit was pretty hard. He finished 39th. Not the finish he was looking for or needed.
It has been a pretty up-and-down season for Wallace. He has run well enough for top-10 finishes but gets caught up in other people’s wrecks.
At RIR his average finish is 17.1, but he has an average start of 26.6. With it being a short track, if you start in the back you can be lapped fairly quickly if you don’t have the car to work in traffic. His best finish is fifth in the fall race in 2008.
After running in the top 10 on Sunday, Justin Allgaier did not get the finish he was expecting or even earned. He was one of the few cars that could fall back in traffic but then work his way right back into the top five.
After surviving all day long Allgaier was just 2.66 miles away from the finish when the late race wreck saw him get swept up and take a hard lick into another car. This was particularly scary because Dennis Setzer’s car went into the fence and was on fire and came down on Allgaier’s car. He walked away fine but disappointed in the 15th place.
At RIR his results have been mixed. In his first start there last season he finished 38th but back in the fall he finished eighth. If Allgaier qualifies better for the race on Friday night his results should improve.
He has proved that second times a charm when coming back to racetracks.
What we saw on Sunday was exactly what you get when you come to Talladega: lots of hard racing and big wrecks. For some fans what they saw Sunday at the end of the race is exactly why they don’t like Talladega, and for others it is exactly why they do. It’s hard to not like that track, so much of those races are won on strategy but the cost for some teams to tow home wrecked race cars is too high.
Now on to the Richmond International Raceway where the action is always tight and even here we can see some large wrecks. Pit road is tight; when all 43 cars on pit road especially early in the race, contact will be made.
The Bubba Burger 250 is Friday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.