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Kenseth escapes last lap 'Dega carnage

It was hardly the way Busch would have wanted to finish his time at Phoenix Racing, the team which had literally saved his racing career by taking him in after his abrupt split from Penske Racing at the end of 2011 that had come too late to get a top-level ride elsewhere. Despite the controversial final minutes of his time in the #51, Busch was seen embracing the Phoenix crew members in the garage area despite his cutting comments a few minutes earlier about their inability to get the full fuel loaded into the car on the earlier stop.

"That was more of an emotional hug of, thanks for all the work this year," said Busch. "It just came to an end short."

Whether Busch will now d├ębut with Furniture Row Racing next weekend as planned rather depends on whether NASCAR feel like throwing a ban in his direction; in the meantime, the current driver of #78 will be walking the other way down pit road to climb into Busch's vacant #51 in what's turned out to be a straight swap between the two squads.

After the caution for Busch's wreck, there was another 35-lap green flag stint before a debris caution on lap 139; and after that the race ran for almost another 40 caution-free laps before the caution for McMurray's accident on lap 182 that set up what proved to be the most ill-fated and expensive green-white-chequered finish of all time.

As virtually the sole man left standing by the end, Matt Kenseth found himself in victory lane - which he found hard to believe, since the team had never felt that it had succeeded in keeping up with the track conditions all afternoon and he'd almost wrecked on lap 42 when he got an accidental tap from team mate Biffle that took the save of the day to avert disaster. There was another near-miss on lap 147, and then at the final restart he'd banged into Clint Bowyer as the two ran side-by-side.

"The track kept getting looser for me as the day went on and we never could get it tightened up," he confessed. "There were just certain spots on the track I couldn't run and make it work. We were really loose and we were on the bottom and I had people pushing me and people outside of me it was just really hard to control.

"On the last lap, that's why I chose the middle groove," he said. "I knew I couldn't be on the bottom or I'd get spun out, so I had to run the middle or the top to try to make a move."

Kenseth had gone past Stewart, and then Stewart took out virtually everyone in sight leaving Kenseth with a free pass to the winners' circle. It's his first race win since the Daytona 500 - another restrictor plate race - which kicked off the 2012 season in February, and the first time he's won at Talladega.

"I'm really proud to be in victory lane with these guys, said Kenseth as he celebrated with his team. "They worked on it hard today. We had an up and down day. We had a couple of near-misses on the track, and had to work our way back through the pack two or three times. We had the car pretty loose and pretty tough at times. But glad it all worked out for us in the end."

Full race results and Sprint Cup Championship standings are available.




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)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose for a photo prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane with team owner Dale Earnhardt jr. after winning the series championship during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane with the trophy, NASCAR President Mike Helton and sportscaster Krista Voda during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and placing ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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