TALLADEGA, Ala. – Everyone expects “the big one” to happen at Talladega Superspeedway.
For some reason, a massive wreck didn’t occur Sunday.
Oh sure, there was a crash on the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, which allowed Jamie McMurray to coast to the victory under caution.
But by the standards of this place, the Camping World RV Sales 500 was about as clean as can be.
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“Once you get toward the end, it usually gets more intense and everybody starts taking bigger risks,” McMurray said. “I was listening to my spotter and he would say, ‘A line is forming, but it’s not very organized and they’re not making up any ground.’
“I’m really surprised they couldn’t put something together to make more of a run. I’m shocked by that, actually. I thought guys would take bigger chances at the end.”
McMurray won for the first time at NASCAR’s highest level since 2010, snapping a 108-race winless streak, and didn’t have to worry about a planned last-lap charge from Dale Earnhardt Jr. after Austin Dillon spun coming out of the second turn.
Casey Mears slammed into Dillon’s car and sent it flying before it came back down upright. Everyone was OK.
“I was trying to go for the win there,” said Dillon, who was filling in for injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 car and competing in his 12th Sprint Cup race. “A wild ride. I just have to thank NASCAR for everything they have done for safety. That hit was fine. I got to drive the car back” to the garage, though he settled for 26th place after going to the final lap in third.
Earnhardt placed second.
“For some reason,” Earnhardt said, “it was a lot calmer the last few laps.”
Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished 13th, good enough to pass Matt Kenseth for the lead in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Kenseth, who finished 20th of 43, is in second place, four points back with four races to go.
Kenseth dealt with an ill-handling car and lost several spots when he tried to make a late move.
“It was really bizarre. Typically, handling is a nonissue here,” Kenseth said. “We finally got it fixed that last run, but we only had 20 laps to get back up there.”
Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., finished 11th and is seventh in the Chase standings. Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw was 36th and is 13th in the points race.