Talledega’s reputation for having the biggest crashes in Nashville went untarnished during the Aaron’s 499 yesterday, beginning with a collision between between Danica Patrick and Brad Keselowski during lap 14 of the 188-lap race. At the time Paul Menard was on the outside, with Keselowski running between him and Patrick, when Brad’s No. 2 Ford hit Danica’s No. 10 Chevy, and went spinning into the apron. He then tore down the track, barely missing Trevor Bayne. Patrick’s car was not damaged and she, too, was able to resume her run. Although she became the first female to lead laps at Talledega when she passed Menard on lap 6, she eventually finished in 22nd place.
“I was running the bottom and feeling like I was about to get hung out, when he went up to the outside and I was looking in my mirror to see if I was clear of Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 to slot in,” she recalled after the race. “I was moving to get in the lane, and thought Keselowski had enough momentum to get passed me. I really don’t know if it was my fault or not. But if it was, it was not an intentional move on my part,” she continued.
While the pair was lucky enough not to cause any pile-ups at the time, Keselowski’s aggression on the track was the catalyst for a major 14-car crash with 50 laps remaining in the race. Among those forced to pit for repairs were leaders Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, and Tony Stewart. In fact, Stewart’s car was so badly damaged that he was unable to return to the track and ended up scoring dead last. Jimmie Johnson and pole-winner Brian Scott were also caught up in the crash.
In the end, Denny Hamlin survived to win the Aaron’s 499, followed by Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and A.J. Allmendinger for the top five finishers.