Talladega Winners and Losers

Jamie McMurray

Jamie McMurray proved again what a strong restrictor-plate racer he was Sunday with his seventh career Sprint Cup Series win. (Photo: Getty Images)

The final restrictor plate race of the year at Talladega Superspeedway produced plenty of winners and some who left Alabama as losers.

Winners

Jamie McMurray - Proved again what a strong restrictor-plate racer he was Sunday with his seventh career Sprint Cup Series win. McMurray and the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team have taken several positive steps forward this year to return to competitiveness.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Sure second place is the first loser, but Earnhardt Jr.'s runner-up finish continued his string of strong finishes since he left the Chase opener at Chicagoland with a blown engine. He said before the race Talladega wasn't his favorite of the remaining tracks on the schedule but Junior turned in an impressive performance.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - A Sprint Cup Series career-best third-place finish on Sunday good news for Stenhouse Jr. who appears headed to Rookie of the Year honors.

Kyle Busch - There was frustration on Busch's part during Sunday's race to be sure and he still has Brad Keselowski in his head, which will do him no good. But after his frightening finish in Saturday's truck race crash to bounce back with a top-five run Sunday and shave some points off the championship standings was a great effort for Busch.

David Ragan - The Front Row Motorsports team showed the Talladega 1-2 finish was no fluke with Ragan and teammate David Gilliland again working together to come home inside the top 10 on Sunday.

Losers

Kevin Harvick - Was the decision to ride around at the back of the pack the right one? Harvick moved to the front but was left out to dry with not enough time or help to do anything but finish 12th and is stuck in fourth place in the title race.

Austin Dillon - Looked like he'd be the guy to take the 14 car to a decent finish in Tony Stewart's absence until the last lap when he went airborne on the backstretch. Two years in a row the 14 has been involved in last last Talladega fireworks.

Juan Pablo Montoya - While his EGR teammate McMurray was winning the race, Montoya was knocked out when he was crashed into by Marcos Ambrose early in the day. JPM certainly has to be counting down the days until he can start the next phase of his career back in Indy Car.

Denny Hamlin - Speaking of counting down days until the end of the season, Hamlin's miserable year continued when he exited because of en engine issue. Looks like he'll be the Joe Gibbs Racing guinea pig for experimentation for the rest of the campaign.

Danica Patrick - Her last chance this year to have a decent finish went out the window when she made a gaffe coming to pit road and fell out of contention. Patrick was again in the lead pack at a plate track but has nothing to show for the effort but a 33rd-place finish.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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