Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Driver Finishes 34th After Accident at Talladega
Date: Oct. 19, 2014
Event: Geico 500 (Round 32 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 37th/34th (Accident, completed 190 of 194 laps)
Point Standing: 26th with 700 points
Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske in a green-white-checkered finish (Ford)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), had a plan for the Geico 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway: Hang around the back of the 43-car field and be in position at the end of the race to contend for the win. It was a plan that he was playing to perfection until a midrace accident caused enough damage to put him in the unwanted position of limping to the checkered flag with a 34th-place finish.
“I saw them wrecking and someone just hit me from out of nowhere – didn’t even see who it was,” said Stewart, the 2008 winner of the fall race at Talladega. “I thought our Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy was pretty good. We just never got a chance to show it.”
The race began well enough for Stewart, who found himself at the tail end of the field for the start after qualifying 37th. While it wasn’t an ideal starting spot, the geography of it suited the three-time Sprint Cup champion fine as it fit his conserve-and-preserve plan.
From the drop of the green flag, Stewart was able to move with traffic regardless of whether it was the top or bottom lane along the 2.66-mile oval, but he reported early that his car was just a bit too loose for his liking. The handling issue was an inconvenience, but it didn’t prevent Stewart from taking a turn at the lead during a round of green-flag pit stops on lap 40. He led five laps to raise his laps-led total at Talladega to 322 before bringing the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy to the attention of his team on pit road, where they changed four tires, made a track bar adjustment and added fuel.
Stewart settled into a comfortable pace during the next several laps, noting that the adjustments had improved the car’s overall balance. All was well until lap 103, when a multicar accident on the backstretch collected Stewart and sent him into the SAFER Barrier along the inside retaining wall.
Stewart was able to drive back to pit road, where he lost a lap to the leaders as his team made repairs to the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 machine. The repairs enabled Stewart to continue in the race, but his car wasn’t the same, leaving him in the unenviable position of just riding to the finish.
It was a much different outcome for Stewart’s SHR teammate Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS. Busch finished seventh to notch his ninth top-10 of 2014 and his 14th top-10 in 28 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished ninth after leading two laps, bringing his laps-led total at Talladega to 173. It was Harvick’s 17th top-10 of 2014 and his 12th top-10 in 28 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega.
Harvick is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and is one of the eight drivers advancing to the Eliminator Round by virtue of his win a week ago at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 19th after leading seven laps. It was Patrick’s 78th career Sprint Cup start and her fourth at Talladega.
Brad Keselowski won the Geico 500 to score his 16th career Sprint Cup victory, his series-leading sixth of the season and his third at Talladega.
Matt Kenseth finished .141 of a second behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five. Travis Kvapil, Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Harvick and Casey Mears comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 25 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 194-lap race, which was extended six laps by a green-white-checkered finish.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the seventh race of the Chase – is the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 on Oct. 26 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race begins at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a prerace show at 1 p.m.