Brad Keselowski wins at Talladega as three Hendrick cars are eliminated from the shrinking Chase field.
Brad Keselowski has won his way into the next round after an impressiver performance at Talladega. With his victory, he escapes elimination. He ended up on top thanks to wingman and Team Penske teammate Joey Logano.
"I can't believe it," Keselowski said. "Talladega is such a wild card and to be able to win here you have to catch breaks and make your own breaks, a little of both. I can't believe we won at Talladega. This race is the scariest of the three in the bracket. To be able to win here is really a privilege, it really is."
An impressive comeback
On his way to the win, Keselowski overcame problems that included starting in the back because of an unapproved change to his car and then contact with Jamie McMurray on lap 60.
"We just persevered; we didn't give up," Keselowski said. "I got a lot of help from my teammate Joey Logano and wow, this is just special. Everything about today is special. I want to say thank you to everyone that supports our team."
Logano fell back on the final GWC and wound up 11th.
Chasers facing elimination
Those put on the chopping block and pulled from the Chase field are Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, and Kasey Kahne.
"Got with the 16 (Biffle) there a little bit," Earnhardt said. "Don't know if I came down on him. I thought I held my line."
Busch's championship hopes ended even earlier. His car sustained substantial damage during a multi-car wreck on lap 102. After spended much of the second half of the race in the garage, he was credit with a 40th-place finish.
Kahne finished 12th, which was not enough to keep him in the Chase.
Other top finishers
Chasing Keselowski across the stripe was rival Matt Kenseth. Clint Bowyer placed third. The underdog performance of the race goes to Landon Cassill who came home fourth, followed by Ryan Newman and another surprise, Travis Kvapil.
The rest of the top ten was filled by Kurt Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Kevin Harvick, and Casey Mears. Jeff Gordon, finishing 26th, was the final driver to advance, doing so by a mere three points.
The race was slowed by six cautions and extended six laps by two GWC's. There were three major wrecks in the event, all involving key Chasers in some way. The first took place when Jamie McMurray lost control in front of Earnhardt, making significant contact with the right side door of Keselowski's door and the right front of Michael McDowell's machine. Joey Logano also spun in the chaos.
The second incident was the largest, collecting eight to ten cars. It was triggered when J.J. Yeley got hooked into the back stretch wall during green flag pit stops, igniting a chain reaction crash that saw Kyle Busch slam the inside wall. Although the team repaired the damage, it wasn't enough to keep him alive in the Chase. Notables such as Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers, Aric Almirola, A.J. Allmendinger, and Austin Dillon were also swept up in it.
The third multi-car accident ended the Chase hopes of fan favorite Dale Jr., who got turned by Greg Biffle on a GWC. He would finish outside the top 30 and miss out on the third round of this year's play-offs.
The eight drivers advancing to the Eliminator round include Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon.