Posted by: Dave Thompson, follow @phillyfan17
October 17, 2017
Brad Keselowski grabbed another Talladega victory, while Denny Hamlin earned a top-10. Jamie McMurray’s day ended early and a 37th-place finish. This weekend the series heads Kansas for the final race of Round 2 of the playoffs.
Keselowski survived all the race carnage and earned his fifth win at the Superspeedway. He is now locked in to the final eight in the playoffs and can coast at Kansas this weekend.
Keselowski was pretty clear after the race that luck was on his side on Sunday.
“The races here at Talladega in the spring and both Daytonas, we got caught up in all the big ones,” said Keselowski. “This one we made it through all the big ones. I thought we were probably pretty strong at those other races and didn’t have the luck. Today we had the luck that we needed.”
Prediction – Keselowski did better than I predicted (top-10) with his win and can relax this weekend at Kansas.
Like Keselowski, Hamlin was also pretty fortunate to avoid the big wrecks at Talladega and took home a solid 6th-place finish on Sunday. The finish put Hamlin up to 5th-place in the standings with a 21-point lead over 9th-place and teammate Kyle Busch.
Hamlin is in solid position to move on to Round 3 of the playoffs as long as he stays out of trouble on Sunday.
Prediction – I predicted Hamlin would finish top-15 and he greatly exceeded those expectations.
McMurray got caught up in an early wreck (lap 24) when he tried to make his way to pit road for an early stop. The decision to pit early was costly for McMurray and the No. 1 team. The car suffered too much damage and was hauled to the garage on a flat-bed truck. McMurray finished in 37th-place and currently 12th in the playoffs standings and on the verge of elimination.
McMurray took responsibility for the miscue, but thought everyone was going to head down pit road.
“We wanted to pit a couple of laps earlier, and you’re somewhat dependent on the spotters to tell you when you’re going to pit”, said McMurray. “You assume everyone is working as a group. It was my fault. I assumed that they said the 18 was going to let me in, so I thought we were all going to pit. I didn’t even know where the 77 was. When I got on the brakes, I thought we were all coming to pit road as a group. I’ll take the blame for that.”
Prediction – Definitely way-off the mark on the McMurray prediction. The miscue was costly and blew my top-five prediction out of the water. A 37th-place finish will likely equate to elimination from the playoffs for him.