Earnhardt flirts with pole before Stenhouse steals show

Ross Houston
May 8, 2017

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. used a strong Ford engine to blow past Kyle Busch in overtime at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday for his first NASCAR Cup victory.

"This is for all the guys at the shop", Stenhouse said. "We almost wrecked a few times". This year, every race we're getting better and better. We knew Talladega was a good race track for us.

Clauson was a racecar driver who died in a crash last summer at age 27.

McMurray finished second in a Chevrolet and was followed by Busch in a Toyota, then Aric Almirola, another Ford driver and victor of the Xfinity Series race Saturday.

"I'm just trying to manage risk", Hamlin said after the stage. "Everything that I've learned is from him. It was a great race".

Mostly because it's one of the most exciting races with so many lead changes.

The inevitable "big one" occurred with 23 laps remaining, when No. 47 AJ Allmendinger made contact with No. 24 Chase Elliott.

"I'm fine. I'm happy I didn't get hit upside down". "I expected to ... well, I wanted to start the season off good".

"I don't know what his help was or anything like that, but he actually ran into the back of me, and then you'd think that that momentum would propel me forward some, and he just turned left and he went right by me", Busch said.

With 44 laps to go, green-flag pit stops began cycling through.

"This is for all the guys at the shop-we've been bad for a long time", an exuberant Stenhouse said of the Roush renaissance.

A relatively clean race - the first real chaos didn't ensue until the latter stages of the showcase - saw Brad Keselowski win the first stage (lap 55) and Denny Hamlin win the second (lap 110). Amazingly, it was his first front-row start at Talladega. This was his third top-three finish this season, but he is still seeking his first win. May.

Again, the Wood Brothers crew worked their way back into the top 10 by lap 132. He lost it on Lap 89 when Newman took the lead before being overtaken two laps later by Bowyer. Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. have also dropped out of the Top 5 and have been replaced by Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick.

Busch was third at the end of the stage. Suarez and Kenseth, though, didn't get to the pit commitment line by the time Keselowski crossed the start/finish line and pit road closed.

"I think you go through that so long that you nearly lose a little - all your confidence".

Sadler was second, followed by Logano.

"I could have defended the middle better off of (turn) two", Johnson said.

There were a lot of passes and multiple grooves, but it just lacked a little bit of action at the front, and the leader could always scoot away from the field.

But Patrick was otherwise occupied when Stenhouse took the checkered flag for the first time in his 158th start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Such was the case for Ricky Stenhouse Sr., whose son won Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Talladega, Ala. - Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s farewell tour has officially started. He has a total of six wins in his career at Talladega.

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