6 May 2013
2013 Talladega NASCAR: Front Row in shock 1-2 win
The only sour note in the post-race celebrations came from Brad Keselowski, who ended up in 15th place at the line having restarted in the top ten. "Me thinks if someone looked at what happened on that restart they might feel differently about that finish," he tweeted. "I'm happy as hell a small team won. Doesn't change the fact that the restart was blatantly wrong.
"#34 swapped lanes before restart," he explained. "Mad as hell about that finish. We were suppose to line up 10th when the #34 switched lanes entering 3 before green. That lane won." Ironically, Ragan blew his first shot at a Cup win at Daytona in 2011 by committing just such an offence and being penalised five laps from the end of the race.
Ragan refuted any allegations of a repeat of his previous misdemeanour: "NASCAR makes the call on where we line up at, and I listen to what NASCAR has to say,' he said. "Brad was just trying to snooker us and get the preferred lane, and eventually he decided he should do the right thing and he restarted ninth and I restarted tenth, so there's no controversy.
"NASCAR will set him straight eventually," Ragan added. "He maybe won't admit it, but he knows that he lined up in the right spot and I lined up in the right spot." But it didn't matter anyway - NASCAR had called the race and Ragan had the victory.
With Ragan and Gilliland appropriately sweeping the front row at the line, Carl Edwards was left in third just a hundredth of a second behind with Michael Waltrip finishing in fourth place ahead of Jimmie Johnson.
"That was crazy," said Edwards. "I blocked everybody I could, I was doing everything I could. I blocked Matt and I thought, 'Oh, we've got it.' And then I saw Jimmie coming and I blocked him and I thought, 'Who is that back there?'
"David did everything but wreck me," Edwards revealed. "He did everything right and I still thought he was gonna wreck when he was looking in his mirror and he almost hit the apron and he wiggled coming to the line, so I thought we still might get this thing. But it's awesome for David Ragan ... It's the most fun I've had at Talladega."
"I thought that between the #99 and the #20 and ourselves and the #51, that we would settle the race between us," admitted Johnson. "I was racing the #38 earlier and he had plenty of speed, but they came up on us so fast that I could see Carl trying to block and he finally said there's no real way to block the speed that they're bringing. Those two had blown by and David had made it back to the chequered flag - it's really cool for that team."
The race result means that Edwards closes the gap on Johnson in the points standings, but only by two points: Johnson still has a 41 point margin over the rest of the field after ten Cup races of 2013.
Meanwhile Matt Kenseth was left ruing 'what might have been' after he lost out badly in that final GWC sequence, dropping to eighth place behind Regan Smith and Martin Truex Jr. by the time he crossed the line despite having led for a total of 142 of the 192 laps of the race.
Martin Truex Jr.
Front Row Motorsports
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