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Rookie sensation Brad Keselowki wins Talladega, but seven fans injured in last lap crash with Carl Edwards flipping


Carl Edwards (99) goes airborne as Ryan Newman (39) suffers damage, and Brad Keselowski (09) drives to victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   Brad Keselowski, just 25, and running in only his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup race, pulled the stunner at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday, in a literally death-defying finish to the Aaron's 499.
   Fortunately there were no serious injuries.
   At least seven fans were injured by flying debris in the last lap crash, and two were flown to a nearby hospital, apparently with minor injuries.
    Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were running a tight one-two on the final restart with four laps to go in the 188-lapper, and they appeared in command.
   But Keselowki was pushing Carl Edwards up through the field in a lightning-fast two-car draft, and Edwards blew by Newman for the lead with a few miles to go, turning the race into a duel with Keselowski.
    Then, on the frontstretch trioval in the final yards of the race, toward the first-turn finish line, Keselowski made a bid to pass on the inside – just as challenger Regan Smith had done with then-leader Tony Stewart here last year.
   Edwards – like Stewart last year – moved low to block.
   But where Smith had moved below the yellow out of bounds line last fall in order to keep from hitting Stewart, Keselowski held his ground – and triggered one of this sport's most frightening crashes in some time.
   Edwards' car went flying and flipping by the frontstretch fencing, just as Bobby Allison's car had done here in that infamous 1987 crash that changed the sport dramatically, by leading to NASCAR's restrictor plate rules at Daytona and Talladega. NASCAR later added roof flaps, to keep cars from flying.

Carl Edwards goes airborne as Ryan Newman (39) suffers damage and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) drives by at the conclusion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)



   Edwards' car bounced off the roof of Newman's car and slammed back on the track and burst into flames, as Keselowski pulled away to win. Earnhardt finished second.
   Edwards quickly jumped out of the car, and then he sprinted to the finish line: "I was determined to finish the race," Edwards said.
    "I would not let myself get in the situation that Regan Smith got in here last year," Keselowski said.
   "I just held my ground. I'm sorry it caused a wreck, and I'm sorry for the fans who got injured.
   "Regan took the bullet last year. But I'm not in the position in my career where I can afford to take the bullet. I was certainly thinking of Regan Smith the whole weekend, not just the last lap.
   "I was going to hold my ground, and the consequences be damned.
   "I am thankful no one got seriously injured.
   "But these fans got to see the most exciting race of the season, and it was full-contact racing all day.
   "I don't know why Carl's car got airborne. These cars aren't supposed to get airborne like that. We need to get into the wind tunnel and figure that out."
    Dr. Bobby Lewis, the track physician: "A car got into the fence and some fans got injured. It appears that eight fans got some injuries, nothing serious, some broken extremities.
   "We will airlift one patient out, who has some facial injuries, possibly a broken jaw. We will also be air-lifting another patient out for medical reasons."
   Drivers were shaken by the last lap crash, following a similar fiery crash at the finish of Saturday's Nationwide race.
   Newman, who came within a hair of winning the race, said NASCAR has to work on keeping these cars from flying. And Earnhardt agreed, calling the finish – indeed much of the race – "A Stroker Ace sort of day," referring to the 1983 movie.
     "That kind of racing is exciting as hell to watch….but I wish we could get away from each other a little bit….so we don't turn into airplanes," Earnhardt added.

Carl Edwards runs to the finish line after crashing in the final mile while dueling for the win at Talladega Superspeedway (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)


Roof Flaps And The Bonnett 1993 Crash

I remember there were six airborne wrecks - at Daytona Speedweeks, Talladega (Robert Ham) in the ARCA race, Charlotte (Chuck Bown) and Michigan (Hillin Jr. nearly landing in the Turn Two grandstands) in 1994, the first year of roof flaps. At some point NASCAR and teams need to admit that roof flaps don't work and can't work.

The comparison is constantly made to Bobby Allison's 1987 melee - a far better analogy is with Neil Bonnett's tumble into virtually that same stretch of fencing in July 1993. Allison's crash, because it was at speeds over ten MPH faster, was far more brutal.

And it should be noted if someone starts griping about "they have to spread out the cars" - in this wreck they were spread out over half the length of the frontstrtetch.

Okay, let me review the video

Okay, let me review the Neil Bonnett 1993 video and think about it....


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