NASCAR Playoffs at Talladega results: Brad Keselowski wins, Dale Jr. finishes 7th

Brad Keselowski passed Ryan Newman on the final lap at Talladega Superspeedway to win his third race of the season and advance to the NASCAR Playoffs Round of 8. Keselowski entered the race below the cutline.

The race -- known for 'The Big One' -- had three major crashes that knocked 10 of the 12 playoff drivers out of the race. Only Keselowski and Denny Hamlin remained on the lead lap when the checkered flag flew. It's the fifth Talladega win for Keselowski, who was also our pick to win on Sunday.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished seventh in his final ride at the track.

Here's how it all went down:

Stage 1: Keselowski climbs to second in the standings

Brad Keselowski won Stage 1 after a one-lap shootout with Penske teammate Joey Logano. Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jimmie Johnson were among the other Round of 12 drivers to accumulate points.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. immediately surrendered the lead to Logano on the first lap. Logano and the other Fords came down pit road for fuel-only on lap 14 hoping for a green flag run through the end of the stage, however when the Chevrolets decided to pit, the first caution came out.

It appeared that NASCAR Playoffs contender Jamie McMurray got under the No. 77 of Erik Jones while trying to pit, sending the No. 1 into a tailspin up the track. It was not the result McMurray was hoping for as he tries to advance to the Round of 8. Jeffrey Earnhardt and 66-year-old Mark Thompson were both involved and saw their days come to an end as well.

The caution flew as Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson were coming in for stops. Unfortunately for those drivers, pit road closed before they entered meaning they had to serve penalties. Junior, Elliott and Larson were running in the front of the pack before the yellow came out.

While the penalties proved to be a setback for the Chevrolets, no one suffered a worse result than Jamie McMurray, who plunged to last place in the playoff points after bringing his car to the garage. McMurray earned just one point and zero playoff points in the contest and will most likely need to win at Kansas in order to advance to the Round of 8.

It appeared that the Ford drivers' gamble from earlier in the race paid off as Logano and four other Fords restarted from the front of the pack. Chevrolet driver Paul Menard tapped the wall and brought out the caution with five laps to go in the stage. 

Kyle Busch, Larson and Dale Jr. used the opportunity to pit before the stage ended as they were not in a position to earn any points. The move put Busch and Larson in prime position for Stage 2, but backfired for Junior, who was penalized for speeding.

Here's how the top 10 finished in Stage 1:

Alabama 500 Stage 1 results

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Ryan Blaney
  4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  5. Jimmie Johnson
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Michael McDowell
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. Trevor Bayne
  10. Kasey Kahne

BOLD - indicates NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12 driver

Stage 2: Ryan Blaney snags a playoff point

Ryan Blaney won Stage 2 at Talladega, holding off a group of drivers including Elliott and Keselowski. The No. 2 driver finished the stage second, adding more valuable points to his total. It was the fourth stage win of the season for Blaney. 

Round of 16 knockout Kasey Kahne led the field to green followed by playoff contender Matt Kenseth. Kyle Busch started the stage third after pitting late in Stage 1. Kenseth instantly took the lead but quickly gave it up to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin.

Similarly to Stage 1, many of the cars came down pit road roughly 10 laps into the stage. Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson got into Danica Patrick on the way in and suffered minor damage to the rear. The No. 48 elected not to fix it immediately, instead opting for a fuel only stop.

Matt DiBenedetto got some time in the spotlight, leading a 12 laps while the rest of the pack tried to catch up after pitting. During that action, Denny Hamlin came to pit road with a loose wheel and the caution came out for debris as his car was being serviced. It was a major break for Hamlin who was in danger of going a lap or even multiple laps down. Johnson also took time to repair his damaged car under yellow as well.

Stenhouse led the field to green on the restart but was passed by Kurt Busch after a couple laps. Blaney eventually snagged the lead from Busch and drove 19 laps to the green-and-white checkered. Stenhouse got caught in the draft, falling back to 22nd.

Here's how the top 10 finished Stage 2:

Alabama 500 Stage 2 results

  1. Ryan Blaney
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Clint Bowyer
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Kurt Busch
  6. Austin Dillon
  7. Jimmie Johnson
  8. Kevin Harvick
  9. Kyle Busch
  10. Denny Hamlin

BOLD - indicates NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12 driver

Final Stage: 'Big One' collects multiple playoff drivers

Hamlin took the lead from Brendan Gaughan, who stayed out after the stage, to start things off. Blaney quickly took the race lead from Hamlin and battled with Elliott, who eventually passed him as well. Keselowski had a poor start to the stage, dropping back into the 20s after reported radio issues.

Fords again came down early for green flag pit stops in the Final Stage with the rest of the field following just one lap later. It was a much cleaner stop under green this time around with no major wrecks occurring. Logano cleared Kyle Busch for the lead as the field reshuffled. Just as the No. 22 began to pull away, 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne got into the wall bringing out the sixth caution of the day. 

Ahead of the caution, Dale Jr. got into the back of Daniel Suarez and sustained minor damage. 

The back of the field wrecked immediately upon the restart. No playoff drivers were involved. Gray Gaulding, AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Cole Whitt, Clint Bowyer and Michael McDowell all sustained damage in the pileup. 

Bowyer ran inside the top 10 at points during the race and had to bring his car into the garage after the wreck. Upon pulling in, he had a few choice words for his crew chief and pit crew.

The caution allowed Keselowski to come down pit road to fix radio issues he had been suffering for most of the final stage. After making the fix and taking tires, the No. 2 restarted 30th. 

Logano led upon the restart however Joey Gase went hard into the wall and brought out the eighth caution of the day with 24 laps to go in the race.

Logano again took the lead on the restart, but was passed by Daniel Suarez in trying to block both the high and low lines. It didn't matter because you know what came next: "The Big One"

16 cars were involved in the massive pile up that seemed to begin with Martin Truex Jr. and David Ragan. Truex had nothing to lose coming into the race as he has already advanced to the Round of 8. Here is a look at the major wreck.

Playoff drivers involved included Johnson, Truex, Stenhouse, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Kenseth. Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Landon Cassill, Michael McDowell, DiBenedetto, Gaughan, Earnhardt Jr., Ty Dillon and Danica Patrick. 

The wreck was so messy that NASCAR had to issue a red flag while officials cleared the track. Dale Jr. was able to drive on despite minor involvement while both Busch brothers, Johnson and Truex were knocked out of the race.

One interesting aspect of the pileup was Keselowski's perspective. NASCAR has teamed up with Twitter to show the race on social media and this week it was shown through the windshield of the No. 2. Here was his vantage point:

21 cars emerged to restart after the dust settled with less than 15 laps to go. Elliott made an impressive move to pass Suarez and Logano on the restart which led to an eruption from the crowd.

The excitement was shortlived as the field wreck again. This time playoff drivers Harvick and Blaney took major damage in addition to Bayne and Gaughan. Logano seemed to be involved in causing the second huge pileup.

Take a look:

The field restarted with eight laps to go as Suarez and Elliott battled on the first lap. Larson then took the lead only to continue his battle with Suarez. With Larson on the low line and Suarez on the high line, Elliott went for an aggressive play. The airflow got Elliott, Larson and Suarez loose and in turn caused a huge wreck. 

Somehow, Earnhardt, Hamlin and Keselowski avoided it again. After the yellow flag came the red for the third time. Popular driver Bubba Wallace didn't run in the race, but summed up the words of everyone watching in a tweet.

Keselowski led the field to the final restart with three to go as Dale Jr. pushed him on the low line while Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin took the high line. Newman took the lead and seemingly had it locked up but was passed by Keselowski in the final seconds.

Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway results

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Ryan Newman
  3. Trevor Bayne
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Aric Almirola
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  8. Kasey Kahne
  9. Gray Gaulding
  10. David Ragan
  11. Ty Dillon
  12. Paul Menard
  13. Kyle Larson
  14. Matt Kenseth
  15. Daniel Suarez
  16. Chase Elliott
  17. Chris Buescher
  18. Ryan Blaney
  19. Brendan Gaughan
  20. Kevin Harvick
  21. Danica Patrick
  22. AJ Allmendinger
  23. Martin Truex Jr.
  24. Jimmie Johnson
  25. Kurt Busch
  26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  27. Kyle Busch
  28. Landon Cassill
  29. Austin Dillon
  30. Michael McDowell
  31. Matt DiBenedetto
  32. Joey Gase
  33. DJ Kennington
  34. Cole Whitt
  35. Clint Bowyer
  36. Erik Jones
  37. Jamie McMurray
  38. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  39. Mark Thompson
  40. Justin Marks

BOLD - indicates NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12 driver

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 standings

POSITION

DRIVER

CAR #

POINTS

BEHIND

WINS

1.

Martin Truex Jr. (advanced)

78

3120

LEADER

6

2.

Brad Keselowski (advanced)

2

3101

-19

3

3.

Kyle Larson

42

3096

-24

4

4.

Kevin Harvick

4

3089

-31

1

5.

Denny Hamlin

11

3088

-32

2

6.

Chase Elliott

24

3087

-33

0

7.

Ryan Blaney

21

3076

-44

1

8.

Jimmie Johnson

48

3074

-46

3

9.

Kyle Busch

18

3067

-53

4

10.

Matt Kenseth

20

3066

-54

0

11.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17

3052

-68

2

12.

Jamie McMurray

1

3045

-75

0

In case you missed any of the action today, please check out our live blog below. It includes tweets as well as highlights from the race at Talladega.

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