AMP Energy 500 Caps Off Exciting Weekend Of Racing

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The race date wasn’t the only thing that changed this year during the AMP Energy 500 Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. The lead also kept changing. Repeatedly.

There were 58 lead changes among 25 drivers in Sunday’s running of the AMP Energy 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, which was held on Halloween weekend for the first time. The 58 lead changes tied for the ninth most in Talladega Superspeedway history, and the 25 different leaders tied for fourth most in series history.

The final pass was made by Jamie McMurray, whose victory in the AMP Energy 500 snapped his 87-race winless streak in the Sprint Cup Series.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve won,” McMurray said. “I just can’t believe it’s here again.”

McMurray’s first NSCS start took place at Talladega Superspeedway in 2002, making him the first driver since Davey Allison to have his Cup debut at the track and then later win a race on the 2.66-mile trioval.

McMurray held on for the final 11 laps of the race thanks to help from Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth. Before that, however, the lead kept being tossed around among approximately two dozen drivers.

From Lap 106 through Lap 154, the lead changed hands 28 times, with no driver managing to maintain a spot in first place for longer than five laps.

This pass-happy attitude actually was established the day before during the Mountain Dew 250 fueled by Fred’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Despite being only a 98-lap race, there were 21 lead changes among 10 different drivers.

The final pass in that race was a thriller perfectly made for Halloween. Kyle Busch used a huge push from Billy Ballew Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola to pass Todd Bodine coming into the trioval on the final lap.

“I owe everything to Aric Almirola sticking behind me like that,” Busch said. “Aric did an awesome job. I knew if we could just stay together, they wouldn’t be able to beat us. Two trucks can always beat a single truck. He did an awesome job sticking with us and being a team player.”

The victory came in the 300th career start for Billy Ballew Motorsports and marked the first time the team has had a one-two finish.

While change was the theme during the races, qualifying had a familiar look. Colin Braun took the pole position for the Mountain Dew 250, giving him a sweep of the poles at restrictor-plate tracks this season and giving Roush Fenway Racing four consecutive Truck Series poles at plate tracks.

“Roush has pretty much had a lock on the poles at the superspeedway races for the last couple of years,” Braun said.  “It’s certainly good to keep that going.”

Meanwhile, all the familiar faces were at the front of the pack for the start of the AMP Energy 500, as qualifying was cancelled by rain and resulted in the starting grid being based on the point standings.

But the rain cleared in time for the Truck Series race that afternoon and all the Halloween festivities that night. That was followed by a gorgeous day on Sunday, with a beautiful blue sky and temperatures in the 60s. It was the perfect day for an exciting race, and the AMP Energy 500 delivered.

Proving once again that when it comes to racing at Talladega Superspeedway, some things never change.

Talladega Superspeedway is already gearing up for the 2010 Aaron’s Dream Weekend featuring qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, followed by the ARCA Series 250 race on Friday, April 23.  On Saturday, April 24, fans will see qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, followed by the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.  On Sunday, April 25, the greatest drivers in the world face off in the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

For more information on tickets to Talladega Superspeedway, please visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. CDT, Monday- Friday.

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