Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 11/13/14

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JANUARY 15: 2009 Daytona 500 Champion Matt Kenseth speaks with the media during NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway on January 15, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images)

Talladega Superspeedway is well accustomed to wild finishes, and Sunday’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 was no exception. After escaping a last-lap accident that greatly shook up the Chase point standings, Matt Kenseth scored his second win of the Sprint Cup season, following the season-opening Daytona 500.

In what started out as one of the cleaner Talladega races in recent memory, there were actually only four caution periods before the green-white-checkered finish. Four cars, including those of Joey Logano and Carl Edwards, ran into trouble on lap 18 to bring out the first caution, while one of the other yellow-flag periods was for debris on the backstretch.

Kurt Busch’s day ended early when he ran out of gas and Jamie McMurray spun him into the inside wall. From there, fans were treated to a classic Busch moment: during the yellow flag period, he got out to look at his car and felt like it could be repaired, so he began driving back to the garage.

Unfortunately for Busch, because he had removed his helmet, he didn’t get NASCAR’s radio message to stop scattering debris from the car, and he didn’t pay any mind to the emergency crews already on the scene. When a medical kit bounced off of the roof of Busch’s car, NASCAR decided they had had enough, and parked him for the rest of the event, his last with Phoenix Racing.

Jamie McMurray was another driver whose Talladega race culminated a week of bad luck. Days after losing primary sponsor Bass Pro Shops to Tony Stewart for 2013, McMurray led the majority of Sunday’s race (nine times for 38 laps) before an untimely spin through the tri-oval ended his day. What could have been an important victory to attract new sponsors instead became a 34th place finish, setting up the green-white-checkered dash to the end.

Clint Bowyer led at the restart, but Tony Stewart held the lead heading into the final lap. Kenseth had been drafting with Bowyer and clawed his way up to the front as the field entered turns three and four. But when Michael Waltrip and Casey Mears had a strong run to the inside, Stewart swooped down to block a moment too late, triggering a 25-car accident that eliminated much of the field behind Kenseth.

As Kenseth coasted to the finish line unchallenged, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch sneaked by the carnage to take second and third place, while NASCAR sorted through reams of transponder data, photos, and video to determine who else finished where. David Ragan and Regan Smith, in his last race with Furniture Row Racing before being replaced by Busch, rounded out the top five.

Chase contenders Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, and Jimmie Johnson finished seventh, 14th, and 17th, respectively, spreading out the points before next weekend’s event at Charlotte. Keselowski now leads Johnson by 14 and Hamlin by 23, with the rest of the field about a race’s worth of points or more down with only six to go in this year’s championship.

Race Review Online’s coverage of NASCAR at Talladega Superspeedway has been brought to you by Prilosec OTC. New Prilosec OTC Wildberry is joining forces with Yardbarker and frequent heartburn sufferer Larry the Cable Guy to scour the country in search of America’s Wildest Flavors. Look for Larry as he jokes his way through each flavor-packed stop on the Wild American Flavor Tour and visits some of the most AWESOME sporting events across the country.

From now until January 7, 2013, enter at WildberryFlavor.com for a chance to win trips to three of America’s most flavorful cities, including tickets to some of the country’s biggest sporting events courtesy of new Prilosec OTC Wildberry. One winner will be chosen at random to receive the prize pack, including tickets to the big football game in New Orleans (February 3, 2013), the first big auto race of the year in Daytona Beach (February 24, 2013) and the basketball championship game in Atlanta (April 8, 2013), travel and accommodations (a two-night hotel stay and air transportation for each destination), and one $5,000 check to be used in any of these flavorful cities.

- Chris Leone

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