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DAVIDSON: Keselowski emerges as the last-lap Cup winner at Talladega

Talladega, AL, Apr 25/21 (by John Davidson): Ten races in 2021 so far and nine different winners. Brad Keselowski became the ninth NASCAR Cup Series winner for the season, leading only the final lap in the GEICO 500 in an overtime finish.Talladega, AL, Apr 25/21 (by John Davidson): Ten races in 2021 so far and nine different winners. Brad Keselowski became the ninth NASCAR Cup Series winner for the season, leading only the final lap in the GEICO 500 in an overtime finish.
Darrel (‘Bubba’) Wallace and all the other Toyotas except for Kyle Busch had to start at the back of the field after being penalized for bodywork violations. NASCAR officials noted something that was "unapproved" about the A-pillar and rear view mirror on the Toyotas, sending them to the back of the starting lineup.
Wallace, after starting in 40th place, drove to the lead by lap 12. He held the lead for three laps before Kevin Harvick passed him, then got the lead back after four laps, but moved to block the top lane and Kyle Busch headed the lower lane into the lead.
Earlier than this, Kyle Larson's engine expired in a cloud of smoke because the panel blocking airflow to the radiator in warmup had been left in place, causing a severe overheating condition and ending his race after only three laps.
Kyle Busch led at the competition caution after 25 laps, with Denny Hamlin taking the lead after the pit stops. Harrison Burton, after winning the previous day’s Xfinity race, dragged his fuel can the length of pit road, earning a penalty in his Cup series debut.
Joey Gase's spin on lap 38 caused the first caution of the race, then a push gone bad sent Denny Hamlin into Joey Logano, whose car turned around backwards and it flew up into the air before slamming on the driver's side roof and landing back on its wheels after a couple of rolls. Logano immediately reported that he was okay as the first Stage ended under this caution with Matt DiBenedetto taking the Stage points.
Logano commented that: "I guess I don't know what to think, it's a product of this racing. When are we going to stop what we're doing? This is dangerous. We've got to fix this. It's no one's fault. I'm lucky I didn't get hit (by another car) while I was in the air."
Hamlin hit a triple bogey on his pit stop in the middle of the second Stage, with a speeding penalty entering the pits, stopping with the front end over the line and then speeding again as he left the pits after his drive-through penalty.
An oil line leak on Kurt Busch's car caused the fourth caution of the race as he pulled into the pits in a cloud of smoke that became flames around the right front corner of the car. The crew repaired the line and got him back on the track several laps down but still capable of running with the leaders.
Wallace won the second Stage, his career first, when a multi-car incident on the front straight ended that Stage under caution but none of the cars involved were sidelined.
A caution on lap 171 for Quin Houff's blown tire and wall contact helped many of the teams that were going to run close on fuel. Erik Jones led to the restart but DiBenedetto and Truex used fresh tires to sweep around and into the lead.
Just four laps from the race’s end came another caution, this one for the tire carcass off of Truex' car in the middle of the first lane. Only Wallace and Kyle Busch pitted, both getting four tires and fuel.
DiBenedetto held the lead for the overtime restart but, on the second and final lap, Keselowski pushed ahead into the lead to win the race.
"What an awesome day today," said Keselowski. "The whole race, I had a couple of opportunities to take the lead but I just kept thinking 'keep your car in one piece’," he added.
William Byron finished second, with McDowell third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Kaz Grala fifth.
"It was a good race for us," Byron said. "I felt like we had a shot there at the end, just not quite enough race car to lead the race I felt like. But it was a really good day. We had some damage, but the guys did a great job fixing it."

• Click HERE for the Cumulative Race Report
• Click HERE for the Race Results

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