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Wiped-out contenders critical of Keselowski

May 04, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com

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TALLADEGA, Ala. -- After an accident-free mid-race stretch -- calm racing by Talladega Superspeedway standards -- a rash of big accidents claimed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions left and right.

A massive 14-car crash was triggered by the lapped car of 2012 Cup champ Brad Keselowski with 50 laps remaining in Sunday's Aaron's 499.

Front-runners Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and pole-winner Brian Scott were among the drivers collected in the mess. Many cars suffered cosmetic damage but Gordon, Kenseth and Stewart were forced to the garage for repairs.

Three-time champ Stewart was unable to return to the track and ended up being scored last.

Kenseth and championship points leader Gordon, in particular, were less than pleased with Keselowski's aggressive driving style considering he was six laps down at the time of the accident.

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"Well, I will say one thing, if it was the other way around and it was anybody else except for him (Keselowski) we'd all be getting lectured,'' Kenseth said. "I didn't know he was that many laps down, honestly.

"He came down across the front of Danica's car early (in the race) and spun in front of the field and thankfully didn't collect any cars. This time we weren't so lucky. He was driving really, really, really aggressively to try to get back up there."

Keselowski went down laps initially after making contact with Patrick and spinning in front of the entire field on Lap 14, a miscue Kenseth called "mind-boggling" -- the same words a frustrated Keselowski used to describe a late race move by Kenseth last week at Richmond International Raceway.

Keselowski took responsibility for the accident, explaining that he was driving aggressively because he needed to make up laps. After the race he posted an apology on Twitter.

In the garage after the accident, Keselowski explained what happened as his crew worked on his Penske Racing Ford.

"I just obviously spun out in front of the field,'' he said. "It just broke loose and spun out on me. 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.

"And I had to be running up toward the front so I feel bad that we got cars torn up and we were laps down when we did it. But we're trying to race, too, and it just didn't work out for us." 

Or for several other contenders.

"I had seen him for several laps driving over his head being pretty aggressive I guess trying to get his lap back,'' said Gordon, who finished 39th and claims a mere three-point edge over Kenseth (who finished 37th) in the standings.

"I knew he (Keselowski) was laps down, but he wasn't doing anybody any favors, nor himself. Then ultimately that was a wreck. I would like to see the video to know exactly what happened. Somebody might not have given him an inch there, but he was certainly taking probably more than he should have been in the situation he was in." 

While Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson was able to continue after his Chevy was damaged in the first accident, he spun out with 14 laps remaining.

"I got caught-up in the first wreck and that did some damage; and I don't know what happened when I spun out. I just went out in front of everybody," Johnson said. "The car just got real loose going into Turn 3 and turned around and collected a bunch of guys, unfortunately. And then after that, I think I got in two more wrecks and somehow still came home in the 20s."

Asked about the day -- the aggressive driving, the costly accidents -- Johnson was philosophic, if not resigned.

"It's 'Dega. Stuff happens," Johnson said.

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