Keselowski Wins The GEICO 500; Keeps Sprint Cup Title Hopes Alive

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TALLADEGA, AL – Brad Keselowski pulled off NASCAR’s version of the Hail Mary pass, the walk-off homer and the three-pointer at the buzzer.

Needing a victory Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in order to advance into the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, Keselowski motored into the lead on lap 187 and then held off a swarm of challengers during a thrilling green-white-checkered finish to win the GEICO 500.

Keselowski was briefly passed by Ryan Newman on the backstretch of the final lap, but pulled back into the lead heading into Turn 3 and remained in front the rest of the way, nipping Matt Kenseth at the finish line by 0.14 seconds. Clint Bowyer finished third, Landon Cassill was fourth and Newman came in fifth.

“We had one job to do, and that was to come to Talladega and win, and we did it,” a jubilant Keselowski said afterward. “The first win of my career was here (in 2009) and that was really big. This one at least equals it. To be able to win here is really a privilege. Everything about today is just so special.”

The victory enables Keselowski to advance into the Eliminator Round of the Chase, along with Kenseth, Newman, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon. Sunday’s results knocked Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnahardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch out of championship contention.

With so much riding on the outcome, Sunday’s GEICO 500 turned out to be one of the most exciting and intense races in the 45-year history of Talladega Superspeedway. There were 38 official lead changes among 19 drivers, but that doesn’t include all the jockeying that was taking place throughout the field lap after lap.

“It was great excitement,” Bowyer said. “What a wild racetrack to come to for that last run (before the championship field is cut from 12 to eight). I think they really did nail it there. What a never-wracking race to be in.”

The intensity only increased during the final laps, especially for the drivers who either needed a victory to advance (Keselowski, Johnson and Earnhardt) or needed an excellent finish (Kenseth, Kahne and Busch).

“I couldn’t tell you everything that happened in those last two laps. There’s so much that happened so fast,” Kenseth said. “You’re trying to manage your momentum, listen to your car, watch everybody around you and try to make the best moves you can.”

Johnson led the most laps Sunday (84), and Earnhardt was second (31), but both drivers got shuffled back in the pack on some late restarts.

“At least we went down swinging. I’ll take some pride in that,” Johnson said. “We just had a very competitive race and a shot to win it, but we came up short.”

Said Earnhardt, “I’m not retiring or anything, so we’ll try again next year. We’ve had a good season (three victories and 17 top-10 finishes) and we have a lot to be looking forward to. We’re definitely not going to get too tore up about. We just weren’t good enough today.”

About Talladega Superspeedway

NASCAR returns back for the traditional May weekend in 2015 May 1-3. NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), with the circuit’s steepest banking (33 degrees) and longest distance (2.66 miles), is also the most fun and fan-friendly, offering up hundreds of acres of free camping, amazing kids ticket prices and special offers for military members and college students. Talladega Superspeedway is NASCAR’s “Party Capital” thanks to the track’s infamous infield and world renowned Talladega Blvd. The historic venue has always worked hard to enhance the fan experience in every way and now features the most comfortable seats in motorsports, large video viewing boards (a new initiative planned for future implementation at all ISC tracks) lining the frontstretch and endless activities for fans throughout its event weekends. Log on to www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 877-Go2-DEGA for more information. This is more than a race, this is Talladega!

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