Denny Hamlin fought off Greg Biffle and others to win Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. It's Hamlin's 24th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory and his first at Talladega Superspeedway. With the victory, Hamlin virtually locks himself into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup becoming the eighth different driver to win in the 2014 season. For Hamlin the victory meant more than that.
"I just want to win races," Hamlin said in victory lane. "It feels so good to be back in victory lane. I'm just proud of my whole team."
Greg Biffle finished in the second position. Biffle had a strong Ford Fusion, leading the most laps. Hamlin was in front on the final restart and got off to a great restart with Biffle pushing him. Hamlin was leading when an accident occurred coming to receive the white flag. Rookie drivers Justin Allgaier and Alex Bowman crashed, putting debris all over the racetrack. NASCAR would let the race stay green until the field reached the backstretch with Hamlin in front.
Finishing in the third position was Clint Bowyer with Brian Vickers finishing fourth and A.J. Allmendinger finished in the fifth position. Paul Menard finished sixth with Kevin Harvick coming home seventh, Kasey Kahne finished eighth, with rookie driver Kyle Larson ninth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr rounded out the top ten.
Finishing in the 11th spot was Landon Cassill with Kyle Busch coming home 12th. Aric Almirola finished in the 13th position with Casey Mears in 14th and Austin Dillon finishing 15th. Michael Annett finished in the 16th spot with Martin Truex Jr finishing 17th, Ryan Newman finished 18th with Marcos Ambrose coming home 19th and Josh Wise finished 20th.
The race began with Brian Scott and Paul Menard on the front row. The lead would change several times including a time when Danica Patrick had the lead. Patrick was leading when Brad Keselowski attempted to pass her #10 Chevrolet on the high side on lap 14. While making the pass Keselowski and Patrick made contact sending Keselowski's car around on the banking. Keselowski would not get hit by anyone although Jamie McMurray received some heavy damage trying to avoid Keselowski's spinning car. Keselowski received damage from the car hitting the banking. Both McMurray and Keselowski would find themselves seven laps behind after repairs.
The race restarted on lap 20 with Matt Kenseth in the lead. Several drivers would lead laps in the next sequence of green flag racing and Jimmie Johnson was in front when the races' second caution flag flew on lap 50 for debris. The leaders would pit and Greg Biffle would find himself in front for the first time in the race on lap 60. Biffle led through a round of green flag pit stops which began on lap 91. Biffle was still in front when the races' third caution flag flew on lap 106 when a caution light broke.
After pit stops Dale Earnhardt Jr was in front with Matt Kenseth alongside on the lap 111 restart. Trevor Bayne went to the lead on lap 113, before Earnhardt fought back into the lead on lap 125. By lap 135 Marcos Ambrose got to the lead. He was leading on lap 137 when the races' fourth caution flew when Brad Keselowski spun in the middle of the pack causing the races' first big wreck of the afternoon.
Keselowski received a lot of flack for the incident since he was several laps down and was running with the leaders. His Miller Lite Ford Fusion broke loose in front of the field. When the dust settled there were 12 cars involved in the accident. Those cars involved were Trevor Bayne, Tony Stewart, Brian Scott, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson, Cole Whitt and Kyle Busch. Several cars would make repairs and continue. Bayne, Scott and Stewart would not continue and finished in the 41st, 42nd and 43rd position respectively.
The race would continue on lap 143 with Biffle in the lead. He would lead until the races' fifth caution flag flew when David Gilliland blew his engine on lap 150. Gilliland finished 40th. The race would continue on lap 156 with Kevin Harvick in front. Harvick was leading when the races' sixth caution flag flew for a six car wreck on lap 174. Jimmie Johnson lost control of his #48 Chevrolet in the middle of the field taking out Michael McDowell, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon.
The race would continue on lap 180 with Kevin Harvick on the inside and Denny Hamlin on the outside. Two laps into the run Carl Edwards would spin bringing out the races' seventh caution flag of the afternoon. Edwards spin collected Cole Whitt and Ryan Newman. The race restarted on lap 186 with Hamlin and Harvick on the front row. Hamlin would get off to a great restart and the race would end on the white flag lap with Hamlin in front.
Other notable finishers in the race included Danica Patrick in 22nd, Jimmie Johnson in 23rd, Michael Waltrip in 25th, Dale Earnhardt Jr in 26th and Carl Edwards in 30th. Joey Logano finished 32nd with Kurt Busch coming home 33rd. Matt Kenseth finished 37th, Brad Keselowski finished 38th with Jeff Gordon finishing 39th.
The 16 car Chase grid at the end of the tenth race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season looks like the following: Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick have two wins on the season, followed by the drivers with one win, which include Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. The rest of the 16 Chase drivers go by points in this order. Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the 5-Hour Energy 400 benefiting Special Operations Warrior Foundation at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, May 10th at 7:46 p.m. ET
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