TALLADEGA, Ala. --
Hamlin, who opened the season with a pair of wins in Daytona exhibition races only to finish second in the
Hamlin let out a deep sigh when the yellow flag waved.
"Superspeedway win," he said on his radio. "With points! With points!"
Hamlin became the eighth winner in 10 races this season as drivers jockey to grab the 16 spots available in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. A victory conceivably gives a driver an automatic berth, and
It didn't appear that Hamlin had enough to beat Harvick, already a two-time winner this season, until the final restart. Harvick didn't get the help he needed from behind, was hung out without any drafting partners, and Hamlin pulled out to a comfortable lead. Then an accident deep in the pack scattered debris, and NASCAR was forced to throw the caution when a bumper was seen laying on the surface.
The yellow prevented
Clint Bowyer finished third and was followed by
AJ Allmendinger finished fifth in a Chevrolet, followed by
It was a rough day for
"We weren't clear enough to make that," crew chief Paul Wolfe told his driver. "I'll just call it at that: We weren't clear enough to make that move."
Keselowski raced in the heart of the pack after the first incident in an attempt to get his laps back under caution periods. But he was heavily criticized for triggering a 14-car accident with 51 laps remaining. The accident began when Keselowski spun in front of
"Brad made a pretty bold move early, a mind-boggling move, in going in front of Danica and spun out in front of the field and got away with it," Kenseth said. "This time we weren't so lucky. He was driving really, really, really aggressively to try to get back up there. I'm not sure what the strategy was.
"If it was the other way around and it was anybody else except for him, we'd all be getting lectured."
Gordon also chastised Keselowski.
"I had seen him for several laps driving over his head being pretty aggressive," Gordon said. "I knew he was laps down, but he wasn't doing anybody any favors, nor himself. Then, ultimately, that was a wreck."
Keselowski took the blame for the late accident.
"I just spun out in front of the whole field," he said. "I don't know why, if I just busted my butt on my own or lost a tire, but I feel bad for everyone that got torn up."