With Austin Dillon and Casey Mears wrecking behind him on the final lap, Jamie McMurray drove on to the checkered flag in the Camping World RV Sales 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Sunday for his second-career win at the track and his first victory since 2010. As a result of the last-lap incident, the race ended under caution.
McMurray admitted after the race that, even though it would have been nice to finish under green, he was okay with seeing the yellow flag.
“Just throw a caution, and I’d be okay with it right now,” McMurray said he was thinking to himself on the final lap.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, while Ricky Stenhouse was third. Dillon was running third behind Earnhardt at the start of the final laps before making hard contact with he wall and collecting Mears in the process.
“When they could never get the inside line to form, it was going to come down to the first two or three cars,” McMurray said.
McMurray wasn’t up front for most of the race, finally moving into the lead with 14 laps to go. It was a lead, though, he wouldn’t relinquish.
“I just never really got in the right line,” McMurray said. “I was just really patient all day.”
Through much of the race, Earnhardt, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson were mainstays up front. As the top-two drivers in a close championship battle, Kenseth and Johnson battled each other for the most laps led stat. Before getting shuffled out of the top-10 around lap 100, Kenseth held the distinction, but in the end, Johnson led the most laps of anyone, running up front for 47 of the 188 laps that made up the race.
Kenseth made his way back up toward the front but would fall back again later on. Johnson wound up beginning a green-flag cycle of pit stops on lap 121 when he headed down pit road virtually alone and wound up 17th, close to Kenseth.
Johnson worked his way back up to the front, only to fall back through the field, again. In the end, he wound up 13th, but that was enough to take the points lead from Kenseth, who finished 20th.
Paul Menard finished fourth, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five having pit problems early in the race that involved missing his pit stall and having to make a second stop during a green-flag cycle just past lap 40.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Front Row Motorsports teammates David Ragan and David Gilliland, who finished first and second the last time the circuit visited Talladega in April, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR