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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