Keselowski and Car Owner Finch Both Gain First NSCS Victory in Aaron's 499
As far as Brad Keselowski is concerned, Ringling Brothers has some competition.
Keselowski and car owner James Finch both picked up their first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory when Keselowski made a last-lap pass to win the Aaron’s 499 Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Keselowski hooked up with Carl Edwards to motor past Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the final seconds. Keselowski became the 25th leader in a race that saw 57 lead changes.
“This is the best show on earth,” said Keselowski, who won in only his fifth career NSCS start. “Man, was that fun. This is NASCAR racing at its finest. This was a great show. I really hope everyone enjoyed it, because I had fun. I found myself laughing in the race car halfway through the race. I hope the fans were cheering and having fun, too.”
The victory also was the first in the Sprint Cup Series for Finch, a veteran independent car owner who has a fulltime NASCAR Nationwide Series team but runs only a part-time NSCS schedule.
“This is the best thing to ever happen to me,” a beaming Finch said. “I’ve always dreamed about winning one of these races.
“Sprint Cup racing is the hardest racing in the world. I’ve won 400 short-track races. I’ve said I’d trade all of them for one of these races. That’s how hard they are to win.”
It seemed unlikely late in Sunday’s race that Keselowski was going to get that victory for Finch, as Newman and Earnhardt pulled away from the field following a restart with only four laps to go.
But on the backstretch of the final lap, Keselowski pulled in tight behind Edwards, and the duo roared around the track and caught up with the leaders as all four cars raced for the finish line.
“I knew I had to get locked into somebody’s rear bumper if I was going to get a run up to the front,” Keselowski said. “Carl and I were coming, we were coming with a full head of steam, and there was no stopping us.”
That came as a surprise to Earnhardt, who ended up finishing second.
“We had it going. I thought there was no way anybody could catch us,” Earnhardt said. “They were smart enough to move up, and the higher lane had been easier and faster all day. And here they come.
“I couldn’t believe Brad was pushing that 99 (Edwards). I would have guessed anybody else. He did an awesome job.”
Newman finished third, followed by Marcos Ambrose in fourth and Raybestos rookie Scott Speed fifth.
Speed, a former Formula One racer, said competing at Talladega Superspeedway surpassed the intensity of open-wheel racing.
“As fast as Formula One is, the racing isn’t the same as NASCAR,” Speed said. “This is the most intense thing I’ve experienced in my racing career for sure.”
Finch could say the same thing, though for different reasons. He had not won a race at any level in three years, and he admitted he wondered whether his days of having success in auto racing had come to an end.
“I didn’t know whether I’d ever win another race,” Finch said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a trophy, and I have to thank Brad for getting me one today.”
In 2009, Talladega Superspeedway proudly celebrates forty years of the most competitive racing in NASCAR. While the track has seen changes made to the cars that circle its high-banks, the surface that they race on and the grandstands that thousands of fans fill twice a year, one constant remains; Talladega Superspeedway is authentic NASCAR racing at its finest.
Tickets are on sale now for the Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 AMP Energy 500 weekend. Tickets can be ordered by calling 1-877- Go2-DEGA, by logging onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com, and are also available for purchase on-site at the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office located on Speedway Boulevard at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.