Talledega: Waltrip wins bruising race

Michael Waltrip continued DEI's domination of the monstrous Talladega Superspeedway, taking victory at the 2.66mile track ahead of team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr in a wild, crash-strewn race

Talledega: Waltrip wins bruising race

A huge crash for Elliott Sadler caused a red flag near the end of the race, setting up a six-lap shoot-out for victory. Sadler had been dicing for the lead of the race when he tapped Kurt Busch's car. This sent him sliding into the in-field, where his car then flipped five times before landing on its roof. Sadler escaped from the car unaided, but was flown to hospital for precautionary checks.

Waltrip led at the restart, and held off Earnhardt, winner of the last four Talladega races, and Jeff Gordon in a thrilling dash to the finish. Tony Stewart finished third ahead of Ryan Newman, with Gordon dropping to fifth after being blocked by Waltrip on the final lap.

The race started with a traditional Talladega multi-car pile-up, triggered when Jeremy Mayfield's left-rear tyre blew nine laps into the event, sending his car flying into Larry Foyt's. This sent the pair slamming into the turn 4 wall, although not before they had collected Johnny Benson, Jimmy Spencer, Tony Raines and David Green. Foyt was another driver taken to hospital for examination.

The accident also punctured a large hole in the front grill of Earnhardt's car, with the DEI star losing a lap while the team hastily carried out some improvised repairs. However, Earnhardt got back on the lead lap on lap 143, when he bumped team-mate Waltrip (a lap ahead) into leader Jimmie Johnson, sending the Hendrick star spinning and bringing out the caution. Under new NASCAR rules, Earnhardt, the first driver a lap down, was allowed to pass the pace car and join the back of the lead lap.

Points leader Matt Kenseth's incredible run of consistency and good fortune came to an abrupt end, when his engine blew on lap 158 while he was challenging for the lead. But despite being classified a season-worst 33rd, he still enjoys a massive 354 point lead in the standings.

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