By Patrick Rall
As the field entered the 3rd turn on the last lap
of Sunday’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 in Talladega, Brad Keselowski was
sitting in 23rd spot and stood a real chance of seeing his
championship hopes slip away. However,
as Tony Stewart did what he does best and caused a massive wreck that collected
25 cars – Keselowski was able to avoid the melee for the most part and move up
to the 7th spot as the race came to an end.
In addition to the obvious benefit of finishing 7th
rather than 23rd, Brad Keselowski saw his NASCAR Sprint Cup
championship lead grow due to the impact of the huge race ending wreck on the
other drivers in the hunt for the 2012 Chase for the Cup. Jimmie Johnson, who continues to sit in the
second spot behind Keselowski in the championship Chase finished 17th
while Denny Hamlin (currently 3rd overall) finished 14th. Due to the difference in the finishing
positions between BK, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, Keselowski now holds a
14 point lead over Johnson and a 23 point lead over Hamlin. Coming into the race, BK and his Dodge
Charger led Jimmie and his Chevrolet Impala by 5 and he was 19 points up on Hamlin
in the Toyota Camry.
Had the “big one” not been caused by more of Tony Stewart’s
rock’em, sock’em racing antics and Brad Keselowski would have finished 23rd,
he would have been awarded 22 points instead of the 37 that he got for
finishing 7th. That, combined
with what could have been top five finishes for Johnson and Hamlin, would have
likely bumped Keselowski from the top spot.
Instead, he was able to navigate the #2 Miller Lite Charger through the
traffic and claim a top ten finish to extend his championship lead.
There are now six races left in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Series Chase for the Cup as Brad Keselowski tries to write his chapter of Mopar
motorsports history and win the only Dodge championship during their 10 year
span in NASCAR that will end after this season.
It will undoubtedly hurt Mopar lovers to see Dodge once
again quit the NASCAR ranks but the pain of seeing the Dodge brand drive off
into the sunset could be softened by seeing a Dodge driver win the