Brad Keselowski spin leads to 14-car crash at Talladega

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Already multiple laps down, Brad Keselowski got loose and lost control on Lap 137 of today’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway to set off a wreck that involved 14 cars.

Early in the race, Keselowski failed to clear Danica Patrick for the lead and was sent spinning out to bring a caution at Lap 14.

While his car appeared to be unscathed after the incident, he was forced to pit for a torn water line and returned six laps down.

But Keselowski was among the leaders when he spun in front of Trevor Bayne, who was fourth at the time, and ended up collecting Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon directly.

Multiple others behind that cluster, including pole sitter Brian Scott, were unable to escape.

“When they wreck in front of you and you’re right in the middle, there’s nowhere you can go, which is unfortunate,” Scott said to Fox Sports. “That’s Talladega, I guess.”

Afterwards, Keselowski accepted responsibility for the melee.

“It just broke loose and spun out on me,” he said. “I don’ t know if I ran over something or just busted my rear end, but I feel bad for the guys that got caught up in it.

“We were just trying really hard to get our lap back there and we couldn’t catch any yellows or any breaks, so I had to be really aggressive and hope for something to happen our way.”

Kenseth and Gordon both indicated that they would try to get their cars repaired and turn some laps before the finish.

“I thought [Keselowski] was a bunch of laps down trying to get back on the lead lap, and he just spun out in front of all us and tore up a bunch of good race cars,” Kenseth said.

“All the right-front suspension is tore off, so we gotta switch all of that out and fix the A-frame mount, then go out and run for a little while, I guess.”

Here is the list of those drivers that were involved in the crash:

2-Brad Keselowski
7-Michael Annett
14-Tony Stewart
18-Kyle Busch
20-Matt Kenseth
21-Trevor Bayne
23-Alex Bowman
24-Jeff Gordon
26-Cole Whitt
27-Paul Menard
33-Brian Scott
38-David Gilliland
48-Jimmie Johnson
51-Justin Allgaier

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

Follow@KyleMLavigne