Talladega Checkered and Black Flags

B.Keselowski

As usual, there were ups and downs over the weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. Brad Keselowski lands in the first category with his Alabama 500 win. (Photo: Getty Images)

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As usual, there were ups and downs over the weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Checkered Flags 

Team Penske
The best restrictor-plate racing organization in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is by far the Team Penske duo of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Keselowski scored his fifth career Talladega win in Sunday’s Alabama 500 and Logano finished fourth, nearly pulling off his third straight fall race win there.

Restrictor-Plate Racing
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I understand that view. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of it, but the intensity and entertainment levels are off the charts when NASCAR rolls into Talladega. That was the case again on Sunday. In a year that's been bogged down with off-track stories including an endless stream of penalties and inspection issues, it was enjoyable to watch – warts and all – the edge-of-your-seat product that Talladega produced.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
He came up short of winning in his final Talladega appearance, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort. Earnhardt was in the spotlight from the second he rolled onto the property in Talladega and somehow dodged crash after crash to be in contention for the checkered flag. "Junior" wasn’t able to do it, but his legion of fans weren’t completely disappointed.

Gray Gaulding
It’s not a typo. Yes, Gaulding scored his best career finish by surviving the mayhem to come home ninth in the Alabama 500. If you play fantasy racing, Gaulding’s 39th-place starting spot coupled with his ninth-place finish was a nice return on investment.

Parker Kligerman
The part-time racer/broadcaster won his second Truck Series race on Saturday and did it where he scored victory No. 1 in 2012. Kligerman was aggressive on his way to grabbing another checkered flag.

Black Flags

Playoff Drivers
Only four of the 12 drivers in the playoff picture finished Sunday’s race. It didn’t matter for Martin Truex Jr., who already advanced to Round 3 after his Charlotte win. But for others like Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., they'll now be racing for their very playoff lives next weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Clint Bowyer
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was understandably upset when a bad pit stop put him in a bad position on the racetrack that led to Bowyer getting involved in one of the day’s many accidents. But stopping your car on pit road, climbing out and getting up into the grill of crew chief Mike Bugarewicz was a bad look all the way around.

Erik Jones
Not the best day for the Furniture Row Racing rookie, who helped trigger an early accident that took out Jamie McMurray and then proceeded to put oil down all around the racetrack, necessitating a lengthy caution for cleanup. A post-race trip to the NASCAR hauler was the icing on Jones’ Talladega cake.

Logano Blame
I get being a fan means sometimes throwing away any logic or reason. But those condemning Joey Logano for getting in front of Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the final lap and not allowing the "88" to make a run to the lead and possible win need to get a grip. Blocking for position at plate tracks is a necessary evil. Logano did nothing wrong except protect his spot while providing some assistance for teammate Keselowski. No foul.

Kaz Grala
His shot to make it to the next round of the Camping World Truck Series playoffs ended only eight laps into Saturday’s race when he was caught up in a crash and eliminated.

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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