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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 début 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)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, finishes in ninth place racing with Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS who finishes in eleventh place Sunday, March 29, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet SS, finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 29, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, finishes in sixth place Sunday, March 29, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 STP Ford, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 Ortho Ford, Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 AdvoCare Ford, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, is involved in an on-track incident in front of Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, as Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Hormel/Menards Toyota, drives away during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, and Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Hormel/Menards Toyota, race into turn one during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for third position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Truex, Jr. is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Johnson is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Gordon is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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