We are unrestricted and full throttle with the second quarter of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. With the second restrictor plate race of the season in the books, despite Kyle Busch not considering Talladega as “real” racing, the fans got their money’s worth. Before heading off to the heartland and Kansas Speedway, let’s look back and see who was lucky and good or was stuck on the hook.
On The Gas…
5) Jamie McMurray – Remember those days when some thought McMurray’s career was over and he was on his way out of the No. 1 Chevy? Certainly, he has no problem reminding people about that after scoring his sixth top 10 finish of the season. Moreover, he made a move at the end of the race that had people asking, “How he’d do that”?
4) Kasey Kahne – Kasey “Who?” That would be fifth place finisher and top Hendrick Motorsports driver at Talladega, none other than Kasey Kahne. Notably, he scored his second top-five and first since Atlanta. Maybe this is the kick in the tail that this team needs for the summer stretch.
3) Cole Whitt – The little engine that could is Whitt and his TriStar Motorsports team. Picking up a big sponsor this past week, getting TV time and staying out of trouble, they’re feelin’ good and running solid, which is key for this team.
2) Aric Almirola – Who doesn’t love seeing the No. 43 Petty Motorsports car up front? We saw a lot of that at Talladega last weekend. Luckily for Almirola, after causing the “Big One” on Saturday, he would rebound, keep the nose of his Ford clean and took a fourth place finish home with that glowing “Fresh From Florida” smile.
1) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Welcome to Victory Lane! An underdog and a first time winner, he brought Jack Roush, a legend to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ winner’s circle, back to familiar grounds. Ricky Stenhouse Sr. will have a nice story to go along with the win as well. Congratulations on that first win.
Eighteen cars were collected in the big one on lap 168. Who should have been on the brakes a little bit more?
On The Brakes…
5) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – A mistake on pit road caused the odds on favorite to have a loose wheel late in the race that would damage the studs. Ultimately, it forced Earnhardt to pit road and out of contention.
4) Ryan Blaney – Running on the outside with no drafting help, he was likely heading to the back. Thanks to a lapped car and misjudgment on a opening between Stenhouse and Brad Keselowski, “Young” Ryan Blaney got there with help of the outside wall.
3) Trevor Bayne – With a chance to finally turn some bad luck around and a fast car, Bayne could have been a contender like Terry Malloy said On the Waterfront. Thanks to the “Big One,” Bayne left Talladega asking, “Anyone know an exorcist?”
2) Chase Elliott – Running second to Kyle Busch, Elliott certainly wasn’t on the brakes until he was probably sideways up on the backstretch wall. Call it bad luck. We like to call it a bad bump draft.
1) AJ Allmendinger – We’ll preface this by saying, it is Talladega. With that said, a little brake action could have gone a long way coming off turn 2. While Allmendinger may have a torn up race car, he’s got everyone asking, what do you use on your hair? 200 mph crash, upside down, and still perfect hair.
We head to Kansas after some real racing, a real first time winner, and plenty of storylines from Talladega. Remember, if you’ve got time, go bowling!
You’re welcome, Kansas Speedway and GoBowling.com. Now, let’s race in the heartland.