Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Driver Caught in Multicar Wreck on Lap 137

Date:  May 4, 2014

Event:  Aaron’s 499 (Round 10 of 36)

Series:  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Location:  Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)

Start/Finish:  12th/43rd (Accident, completed 136 of 188 laps)

Point Standing:  21st (244 points, 103 out of first)

Winner:  Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Restrictor-plate racing is an anomaly in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, where drivers’ destinies are not always in their control and they must rely on others to help push them to the front and keep their racecars straight.

When an accident happens, it typically consumes multiple cars, and on lap 137 of the Aaron’s 499 Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Tony Stewart was collected in a wreck not of his making.

When Brad Keselowski, despite being six laps down, was racing among the lead pack and lost control, his spinning racecar set off a chain reaction crash that collected 13 others, including Stewart and his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

Stewart ducked low to avoid the melee that was unfolding off turn four of the 2.66-mile oval, but as cars spun off the banking and onto the apron, they impacted Stewart, sending his Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy nose-first into the SAFER Barrier lining the inside retaining wall.

Stewart emerged from his wrecked racecar unscathed and was promptly evaluated and released from the infield care center after his mandatory ambulance ride. The hunter orange Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy was another matter, as its front end was a crumpled mess. Crew chief Chad Johnston, who prior to Talladega had spent countless hours making the contours of the No. 14 machine slippery smooth, made the quick and easy call that their race was over.

With a dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish), Stewart was credited with a 43rd-place finish.

At the other end of the racing spectrum was Stewart’s teammate Kevin Harvick, who led the four-car SHR contingent by finishing seventh in the Aaron’s 499. Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led three times for 15 laps, all within the last 20 laps of the 188-lap race. It was his 11th top-10 in 27 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega and his fourth top-10 this season.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, started seventh and led twice for six laps before finishing 22nd.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started ninth and finished 33rdafter being caught up in a multicar crash on lap 175 that ended his day.

Denny Hamlin won the Aaron’s 499 to score his 24th career Sprint Cup victory in his milestone 300th start. It was his first win of the season and his first at Talladega.

Greg Biffle finished behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-five. Paul Menard, Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were eight caution periods for 31 laps, with 12 drivers failing to finish the race, which ended under caution.

With round 10 of 36 complete, Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 19th with 258 points, 89 behind first-place Jeff Gordon. Stewart is 21st with 244 points, 103 out of first. Busch is 27th with 196 points, 151 out of first. Patrick is 29th with 176 points, 171 out of first.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the 5-hour Energy 400 on Saturday, May 10 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 7 p.m.