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Firestorm: Multicar crash erupts at finish

May 04, 2013, Kenny Bruce,

As Smith, other leaders crossed finish line, chaos trailed around final turn

Related: Video: Watch the wreck | Aaron's 312 results | Points standings | Full Talladega coverage

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- A quarter-mile? Less perhaps?

Mike Wallace couldn’t be certain, and not because darkness had almost fully enveloped Talladega Superspeedway.

Race officials were still sorting out the finishing order of a slam-bang ending to Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race as Wallace and a handful of other competitors eased their way out of the infield care center.

Wallace, Landon Cassill, Brian Vickers, Mike Harmon … seven drivers in all, came within a whisker of surviving yet another typically wild race at the 2.66-mile track. 

But a firestorm of metal and smoke erupted on the frontstretch as the leaders chased the checkered flag, sending cars spinning across the asphalt, crunching fenders and denting egos. 

"It’s kind of one of those deals (where) you’re almost predicting it’s going to happen."

-- Mike Wallace

“We did the strategy move to stay in the back most of the day,” Wallace said of his JD Motorsports team. By the time the field was turned loose for a green-white-checkered finish, he was running inside the top 10.

“(Coming to the finish) I was at the top all by myself and all of a sudden the 11 (of Elliott Sadler) came across. It’s kind of one of those deals (where) you’re almost predicting it’s going to happen.”

Contact between Vickers and Sadler turned Vickers as the two chased Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and eventual race winner Regan Smith through the dogleg. As his Joe Gibbs Racing entry shot up the track, Vickers clipped Alex Bowman, who spun and collected Sadler. Justin Allgaier, Wallace and the rest had nowhere to turn.

“I didn’t think that group that was up front would wreck,” Wallace, who still managed to finish seventh, said. “I just thought, ‘OK, they’re going to be fine. It’s dark. Everybody’s just going to say let’s take what we can get here. Well …”

Cassill, 17th, called it “probably one of the hardest hits I’ve ever had.

“I was ready for that to happen,” he said. “I just tried to make a move when I saw them wrecking … and it didn’t work for me. “



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