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Kenseth escapes last lap 'Dega carnage

"If this was what we did every week, I wouldn't be doing it, let me put it to you like that," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., the sport's post popular driver with the fans who finished the race in 20th place. "I don't even want to go to Daytona and Talladega next year."

"But I ain't got much choice," he added, unhappily.

Before the carmeggeddon finish to the afternoon, the race had actually been relatively straightforward and uneventful by comparison. Polesitter Kasey Kahne led for the first seven laps with the help of Jeff Gordon, but after that Talladega's unique restrictor plate style of pack racing means that there was a rapid turnover of cars being pushed to the front and then dropping back as the draft broke up. In total there were 54 led changes involving 18 different drivers, with Jamie McMurray leading the most with 38 of the 189 laps out in front followed by

The first caution came on lap 18 for an accident involving Cole Whitt and Carl Edwards which also inflicted some damage on Joey Logano's car and effectively stopped the youngster from making much of an impact in the day's proceedings, eventually ending up two laps off the pace in 32nd place.

After that early mishap the race went green all the way to lap 99, the latter stages of which featured a spirited attempt by Kurt Busch - in his last outing with James Finch's Phoenix Racing - in a successful bid to wrest the lead from Jamie McMurray, which saw the #1 briefly pushed down below the double yellow line marking the inside limit of the track.

Busch's challenge ended abruptly minutes later, when his car suddenly ran out of gas much to his - and the team's - amazement, as they thought he was good for at least another four to five laps before the next round of green flag pit stops were due. Running out of fuel and suddenly losing speed is not a happy thing to do in the middle of a high speed pack, and inevitably McMurray tapped the #51 into a spin out of turn 2 and into the wall to bring out the second caution of the day.

Busch's car was badly damaged and dropping debris on the track as he tried to pull away to get back to the garage, but he ignored the safety officials and drove off anyway - with an EMT kit still perched on top of the car's roof. He'd taken his helmet off and was unable to hear the incandescent radio communications from NASCAR race control, and by the time he'd finally got back into pit lane he was in a huge amount of trouble and officially excluded and parked from the race for disobeying the instructions of the track workers

"We talked to Kurt about the situation with our emergency people around the car and his effort to get back into the garage area," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition. "He made an effort to get back in the car and get back in the garage, and we felt like it put some of our folks in harm's way."

Pemberton wouldn't say whether Busch - already on NASCAR probation through to the end of the year for comments he made to a member of the media in June - would face further sanctions for his actions on Sunday afternoon. But he added ominously: "We had a good conversation with him and I'm sure we'll talk more about it."

"I'm leading, I run out of gas, I wreck - and still that competitive guy wants to get back in the race," Busch told reporters afterwards. "And now NASCAR's yelling at me because I don't have my helmet on, and I'm trying to get it to the garage so the guys can work on it.

"Now I'm in trouble, now I've got this little storm right here. This is my life. I'm not complaining. I put myself in a lot of these situations, but it's good things are moving forward. I've got all the bad luck out of the way. This year has been a great year to test me in every which way."




Related Pictures

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Kurt Busch, driver of the #51 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet, talks to the media after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 7, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Ford Ecoboost/National Breast Cancer Foundation Ford, takes the chequered flag as he crosses the finish line under caution to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 7, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth (#11) escapes a major wreck behind him during the final lap to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 7, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, pits along with the rest of the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Panasonic Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS, races to win with Kyle Larson, driver of the 42 Target Chevrolet SS beside him finishing in eighth place Sunday, August 31, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. With this win, Kahne, a Hendrick Motorsports driver, is in the Chase. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by his Hendrik Motor Sports teammates Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Panasonic Toughbook Chevrolet SS (left), Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS (center) and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS (right) after his victory Sunday, August 31, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. With this win, Kahne joins Gordon, Johnson, and Earnhardt Jr. in the Chase. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, races Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ford, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, qualified for third position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. Larson is 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, won the Pole position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. It was Harvick`s sixth pole win of the 2014 season. He is 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished fifth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finished twelfth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and his team celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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