Talladega NASCAR: Matt Kenseth wins amid huge last-lap crash

Matt Kenseth claimed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the season by driving through the carnage of a last-lap pile-up at Talladega

Talladega NASCAR: Matt Kenseth wins amid huge last-lap crash

The Roush Fenway racer emerged up front after reigning champion Tony Stewart drove down on the charging tandem of Michael Waltrip and Kasey Kahne in an attempt to try and preserve the lead out of the final corner in a green-white-chequered finish.

The contact between Stewart's Chevrolet and Waltrip's Toyota ignited a multi-car collision that caught up 24 cars, including all but two of the Chase contenders, winner Kenseth and Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon.

Kenseth was running right behind Stewart before the chaos ignited and was able to come through unscathed to win his second restrictor-plate race of his final Roush Fenway season. Those following him on the outside line, led by Kevin Harvick, were wiped out of contention.

Gordon's second-place finish allowed him to jump up to sixth place in the standings but he still only managed to gain six points on Penske's Brad Keselowski, who escaped the carnage to finish seventh and increase his Chase lead over Jimmie Johnson.

The five-time champion was credited with a 17th place that allows him to retain second in the Chase, albeit now 14 points behind after being among those caught in the carnage, having ran at conservatively for most of the afternoon.

Stewart's car flipped and got collected by others following the initial contact with Waltrip but fortunately he was able to emerge unharmed from his stricken Chevrolet.

The reigning champion took a big hit in the points, dropping two places in the standings. He accepted the blame for the incident.

"I just screwed up," said Stewart. "I turned down across, I think it was Michael and crashed the whole field. It was my fault for blocking to try to stay where I was at. So, I take 100 per centof the blame."

Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch bounced back from being a lap down to finish third, also surviving the wreckage, while David Ragan and Regan Smith, the latter in his final outing for Furniture Row Racing, completed the top five.

Kenseth's team-mate Greg Biffle, also a survivor of the final incident, managed to avoid hitting a number of cars on his way to a sixth-place finish.

Denny Hamlin spun on his own behind the mayhem and finished 14th. He dropped further back in the Chase while retaining his third place in the championship, now followed by Hendrick's Kasey Kahne, who finished 12th.

Earnhardt Ganassi's Jamie McMurray gave some hope to his outfit by leading the most laps but his hopes of victory were dashed after he got spun by Kevin Harvick four laps from the end, bringing out a fourth caution that allowed most of the leaders to take a splash of fuel for the final sprint.

Kurt Busch had a controversial final race for Phoenix Racing, getting spun out by McMurray after claiming on his radio he had ran out of fuel.

The 2004 champion was being serviced by track crews when he suddenly motored away to drive back to the pits, having already taken his helmet off. Officials parked him for the rest of the day as a consequence.

Despite his victory, Kenseth remains at the bottom of the Chase standings, 62 points off leader Keselowski.

Results - 189 laps:

Pos  Driver                Team/Car                         Time/Gap
 1.  Matt Kenseth          Roush Fenway Ford            2h56m12.000s
 2.  Jeff Gordon           Hendrick Chevrolet               + 1.819s
 3.  Kyle Busch            Gibbs Toyota                     + 2.384s
 4.  David Ragan           Front Row Ford                   + 6.927s
 5.  Regan Smith           Furniture Row Chevrolet          + 8.137s
 6.  Greg Biffle           Roush Fenway Ford                + 8.609s
 7.  Brad Keselowski       Penske Dodge                    + 12.474s
 8.  Travis Kvapil         BK Toyota                       + 13.391s
 9.  Ryan Newman           Stewart-Haas Chevrolet          + 14.996s
10.  Jeff Burton           Childress Chevrolet             + 23.828s
11.  Kevin Harvick         Childress Chevrolet             + 24.231s
12.  Kasey Kahne           Hendrick Chevrolet              + 25.298s
13.  Martin Truex Jr       Waltrip Toyota                  + 25.785s
14.  Denny Hamlin          Gibbs Toyota                    + 25.928s
15.  David Gilliland       Front Row Ford                  + 30.013s
16.  Terry Labonte         FAS Lane Ford                   + 35.183s
17.  Jimmie Johnson        Hendrick Chevrolet              + 39.677s
18.  Bobby Labonte         JTG Daugherty Toyota            + 42.410s
19.  Aric Almirola         Petty Ford                    + 1m02.103s
20.  Dale Earnhardt Jr     Hendrick Chevrolet            + 1m09.307s
21.  Trevor Bayne          Wood Brothers Ford                + 1 lap
22.  Tony Stewart          Stewart-Haas Chevrolet           + 1 lap*
23.  Clint Bowyer          Waltrip Toyota                   + 1 lap*
24.  Sam Hornish Jr        Penske Dodge                     + 1 lap*
25.  Michael Waltrip       Waltrip Toyota                   + 1 lap*
26.  Casey Mears           Germain Ford                     + 1 lap*
27.  Marcos Ambrose        Petty Ford                       + 1 lap*
28.  Paul Menard           Childress Chevrolet              + 1 lap*
29.  Dave Blaney           Baldwin Chevrolet                + 1 lap*
30.  Landon Cassill        BK Toyota                         + 1 lap
31.  Michael McDowell      Parsons Ford                      + 1 lap
32.  Joey Logano           Gibbs Toyota                     + 2 laps
33.  David Stremme         Inception Toyota                 + 2 laps
34.  Jamie McMurray        Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet     + 5 laps*
35.  Robert Richardson Jr  R3 Chevrolet                    + 9 laps*
36.  Carl Edwards          Roush Fenway Ford               + 10 laps

Retirements:

     David Reutimann       Baldwin Chevrolet                163 laps
     Juan Pablo Montoya    Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet      156 laps
     Kurt Busch            Phoenix Chevrolet                 98 laps
     Cole Whitt            Circle Sport Chevrolet            16 laps
     Joe Nemechek          NEMCO Toyota                      12 laps
     Timmy Hill            NEMCO Toyota                       8 laps
     Josh Wise             Front Row Ford                     5 laps

* Not running at finish

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