6 May 2013
2013 Talladega NASCAR: Front Row in shock 1-2 win
But a restart there was all the same, with ten to go and ironically it was Kenseth who initially dropped back to fourth before recovering his momentum to go three wide with Johnson and Busch at 200mph. Regan Smith also arrived to make his presence felt, and everyone held their breath sensing disaster was imminent.
And it was. Another major wreck ensured following initial contact between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and JJ Yeley, with Kurt Busch the most conspicuous casualty as the #78 was flipped and rolled into the air before landing on the hood of Newman's car. Danica Patrick's car was also extensively wrecked, and Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray were also caught up in the aftermath to a lesser degree.
"I saw that whole thing in my mirror - that was unbelievable," radioed Johnson, a note of understandable "I told you so" to his voice.
Now it was Kenseth's turn to plead for the race to be called - he'd just taken the lead with an audacious move before the cautions came out, putting him ahead of Edwards, Johnson and Smith. "What corner am I in again?" he radioed, to underscore just how dark it now was and how little visibility the drivers had.
Emerging from the infield medical centre, Ryan Newman was way more forthright in his words to the media: "They can build safer racecars, they can build safer walls, but they can't get their heads out of their asses far enough to keep them on the racetrack, and that's pretty disappointing," he fumed, adding that he was only speaking to reporters in order to let everyone know he was okay after the nasty wreck.
"I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y'all can figure out who 'they' is. That's no way to end a race. Our car was much better than that. That's just poor judgement in restarting the race, poor judgement. I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgement and running in the dark and running in the rain.”
But the show had to go on, and would conclude with a green-white-chequered finish just like the Nationwide race had the day before. This time there was no last minute major wreck: but there was one heck of a major surprise instead, as out of no where the lowly Front Row Motorsports pairing of David Ragan and David Gilliland teamed up and swept past Edwards, Johnson, Smith and the rest to claim the win at the line against all the odds.
It's the first win for Front Row in the team's history, and Ragan's second career win; even Johnson, when told who'd won because he hadn't been able to tell himself because of the gloom, couldn't resist saying that the fairytale outcome for the tiny team was "awesome."
"It's a true David versus Goliath story and couldn't be prouder to play my role," said Ragan in victory lane afterwards. ""They're not all this easy, but this is special to get Front Row Motorsports their first win. It feels like I've never been here before.
"I've got to thank my teammates," he added. "If it wasn't for that final push from David Gilliland, I don't know what to say."
Martin Truex Jr.
Front Row Motorsports
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