Hamlin rolls to victory in Aaron's 499 at Talladega
TALLADEGA, Ala. — Denny Hamlin was the man out front when the final yellow flag of the day was waved with less than a half a lap to go because of debris in the middle of the track on the front stretch of the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday.
Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer were waiting to make their move, but the caution lights ended their victory hopes as Hamlin was able to cruise to his first win of the season and the 24th of his career and the first at a restrictor-plate race.
Hamlin was the leader when the green came out for the final time with two laps to go. Kevin Harvick was second on the restart. But Harvick’s victory hopes were eliminated when he tried to block the third lane being formed by Landon Cassill. Harvick had to get out of the gas to keep Cassill from hitting him.
This left Biffle in second place with Bowyer on his bumper.
As the front pack was given the white flag, rookie Justin Allgaier spun just before the start-finish line with a huge piece of debris flying off his car and coming to rest on the tri-oval.
The caution came out moments later to hand the victory to Hamlin.
Brian Vickers finished fourth followed by A..J Allmendinger, Paul Menard, Harvick, Cassill, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson.
The first 137 laps of the race were marred by only three caution flags. But in the first one of the day on lap 14 Brad Keselowski tried to cut down in front of leader Danica Patrick with the two cars touching. Keselowski went on a wide ride but was able to keep the car off the wall.
Keselowski cut a water line in the process and lost six laps while his crew repaired the damage.
Keselowski was still six laps down on lap 137, but he was running in the front pack when he got sideways to trigger a 12-car accident.
“It just broke loose,” said Keselowski. “I feel bad I got all those cars involved.”
Matt Kenseth, who was one of the cars involved in the accident, calls Keselowski’s decision to run up front “mind blowing. He just spun out on front of all of us.”
Added Jeff Gordon, who was also involved, “I’m not sure why he was driving like he was.”
Four more caution flags in the next 55 laps set up a potential two-lap shootout that never took place because of the final yellow flag.
NOTES: Marcos Ambrose is not going to apologize for punching Casey Mears following the Richmond race. “I was just standing up for myself and my team and my family and letting people know that you can’t get in my private space like that and expect to not have any consequences,” said Ambrose on Thursday. Mears confronted Ambrose as