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Jamie McMurray wins, Ryan Newman and Mark Martin brave wild, flipping crashes, and Jimmie Johnson is Teflon again: a typically bizarre Talladega 500

  Jack Roush (L) celebrates the Talladega 500 victory with Jamie McMurray...but the veteran car owner may need to talk with NASCAR about more aerodynamic safety devices for these Cup cars, after Newman's flipping crash (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Yes, about the only predictable thing about Talladega Speedway is its unpredictability.
   And it rose to the occasion Sunday.
   Jamie McMurray, a man without a ride in just three weeks, pulled off a surprise victory in Sunday's Talladega 500, a strange, very strange race – where NASCAR changed the rules dramatically just two hours before the start, and where the drivers responded with two straight hours of boring, single-file racing too familiar to fans of California's Auto Club Speedway – and certainly not the type of frantic action that Talladega fans have come to know and love over the years.
   For much of the gorgeous fall afternoon drivers raced listlessly around this the biggest track in NASCAR, and they even cracked jokes with their crews about needing iPods and no-Doze to keep from falling asleep.
   Ryan Newman provide some of the day's biggest excitement when he was tagged from behind by Marcos Ambrose and was abruptly launched on a wild, flying, flipping crash, and was then trapped inside his upside down car for some five minutes while rescue crews tried to extract him.
   And Newman took that opportunity, when he emerged from the infield hospital, to rip NASCAR for its Talladega rules and for failing to address aerodynamic issues here – issues he himself first raised after a similar crash here in April with Carl Edwards.   
   Newman pointedly called Sunday's racing "boring" and said the fans here – a relatively small crowd, maybe 100,000 at a facility that holds nearly 150,000 – deserved better.
   There was so much follow-the-leader stuff that some wondered if the drivers were waging some kind of indirect 'strike,' or slowdown, to voice their unified displeasure. One driver on the radio even hinted at that during the race.


   Jamie McMurray 26) takes the checkered and yellow, making the Talladega 500 his third career win, and putting car owner Jack Roush back in victory lane for the first time since February (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   But the two big crashes at the end….well, Jeff Gordon said "It's no surprise to me. We know that's going to happen eventually at Talladega."
   First, Newman's crash.
   Then, on the final restart, a green-white-checkered, Mark Martin too got hit and flipped on the frontstretch. Martin, who had a shot to win late, and who  had appeared hooked up with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a stretch charge, found himself back in the pack trying to save gas when he got hit.
   Martin was angry but cool afterwards: "Just a wreck. It looked pretty exciting from my viewpoint. But I don't have a clue as to what happened. Congratulations to Jamie McMurray; that's about all I know about the whole race."
    For Martin it was a double dose of heartache. Until those final moments, he was on target to pick up as much as 100 points or more on tour leader Jimmie Johnson, who was having a woeful day. Martin came into the race 118 points behind Johnson, in what had become essentially a two-man chase (with Gordon) to try to catch Johnson in the Sprint Cup championship playoffs. Johnson tried conservative strategy, and stayed near the end of the pack, to avoid any expected crashes; however, Johnson was never able to get anything going down the stretch and appeared doomed to finish somewhere between 25th and 30th.
    With Martin running so well, and with Gordon running well too, it could have been a turnaround in the championship chase for both men, and a big downer for Johnson.
    However, with drivers running out of gas late, and crashing, Johnson pulled off an amazing – and amazingly lucky – finishing sixth – NASCAR took a long time providing the precise finishing order because of the late yellow. And Johnson appeared to be leaving here for Texas with a virtually insurmountable 184 point lead over Martin.
   To put Johnson's finish in better perspective, he was running dead-last in the field with only 25 laps to go.


  Ryan Newman: upset with NASCAR (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  The results of Sunday's Talladega 500, Race Seven of the 10-race chase


I wish Nascar would change

I wish Nascar would change the points system so that the leading driver would gets points for each lap that they lead forcing some of these drivers to move to the front and race.

I will give credit to Jamie

I will give credit to Jamie McMurray and the #26 team. They came to race regardless of the whole drafting controversy, gave it all, ran strong to the finish and MANNNNED UP! Not hang in the back like a pussy like JJ and the #48 team did. THAT is not befitting of a Champion.

If I ever win the mega millions/powerball lottery in the $100+ mil jackpots, one of the first things I'm gonna do is put together an investment team of multi-millionaires and look into buying out ISC, then use that to break NA$CAR and start all over again.

And no, this won't be a failure like CART!

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