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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)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (L) and John Godwin of Duck Commander (R) look on at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

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