Dale Earnhardt Jr. thought he and Ryan Newman were going to settle Sunday's Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway between them.

That was before race winner Brad Keselowski pushed Carl Edwards to the lead during a wild four-lap run to the finish. Ultimately, Keselowski took the checkered flag after a mistimed blocking attempt by Edwards in the final 400 yards sent Edwards crashing into the catch fence as the cars approached the finish line.

"I had a deal with the #39, with Ryan, to kind of break away from the pack and kind of do what we didn't do (Saturday) in the Nationwide race (where Newman and Earnhardt finished second and fifth, respectively)," said Earnhardt, who ran second to Keselowski in Sunday's Cup race.

"We had it going. We were staying tied together, and (I thought) there's no way anybody can catch us. They (Edwards and Keselowski) were smart enough to move up. The higher lane had been easier and faster and winding the car out better all day. They were smart enough to run in the middle--and here they come."

Earnhardt was shocked to see Keselowski, who drives for Earnhardt and Rick Hendrick's JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, pushing the Ford-driving Edwards to the lead.

"I couldn't believe Brad was pushing that #99," Earnhardt said. "I would have guessed anybody else. But he did an awesome job."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News

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