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2009 Aaron's 499

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Title: 2009 Aaron's 499  
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Subject: Juan Pablo Montoya, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Bill Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Special paint schemes in racing cars, Max Papis, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Scott Speed
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2009 Aaron's 499

2009 Sprint Cup Series
Chase for the Sprint Cup
Non-points races in italics

The 2009 Aaron's 499 was the ninth race of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The 500.8 miles (806.0 km) race was run at the 2.66 miles (4.28 km) Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama on April 26. Fox Sports broadcast the race starting at 1 PM US EDT, with MRN and Sirius XM Radio carrying the radio broadcast over the air and on satellite respectively. The race had nine cautions, 25 different leaders, and 57 lead changes, the most lead changes of the season up until that point.

Brad Keselowski, driving for Phoenix Racing, won the race in his fifth career start (third start in 2009) and led his first career Sprint Cup lap, Lap 188 (in fact the only lap he led the entire race), while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished second and Ryan Newman finished third. This was the first time since Casey Mears's win at the 2007 Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte that a driver had won his first career win in a major, and the first win in the Aaron's 499 by a first-time driver since Phil Parsons in 1988. It was also the first time a driver's first ever lap led was to win the race. Keselowski dedicated his win to the late Neil Bonnett.



The track, Talladega Superspeedway, is one of six superspeedways to hold NASCAR races, the others being Daytona International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway.[1] The standard track at the speedway is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2.66 miles (4.28 km) long.[2] The track's turns are banked at thirty-three degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, is banked at 16.5 degrees. The back stretch has a two-degree banking.[2] Talladega Superspeedway can seat up to 143,231 people.[3]

Before the race, Jeff Gordon led the Drivers' Championship with 1242 points, and Jimmie Johnson stood in second with 1157. Kurt Busch was third in the Drivers' Championship with 1144 points, six ahead of Tony Stewart and 56 ahead of Denny Hamlin in fourth and fifth. In sixth, Clint Bowyer with 1052 points was 26 points ahead of Kyle Busch in seventh, as Carl Edwards with 1023 points was 31 points ahead of David Reutimann, and 48 points in front of Kasey Kahne.[4]

Race summary

To begin pre-race events, Jeff Sauls, Chaplain Emergency Crews and Alabama Raceway Ministry, delivered the Invocation at 1:00 P.M Central Standard Time.[5] Then Katie Stam, Miss America 2009, performed the national anthem. At 1:08 PM, University of Alabama head football coach, Nick Saban, delivered the starting command.

During the pace laps, Scott Speed made an emergency last-minute pit stop, causing him to start the race one lap down, since the Talladega races are impound races. Before the green flag, six drivers, including all four Richard Petty Motorsports cars, had to move to the back of the field due to engine changes: Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, David Stremme, Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson and A.J. Allmendinger. Robby Gordon was also forced to start at the rear as his car height was too low and failed post-qualifying inspection.

At the drop of the green flag at 1:20 PM, polesitter Juan Pablo Montoya claimed the lead. Montoya led for four laps. On lap 5, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. passed Montoya for the lead with drafting help from Denny Hamlin. Earnhardt, Jr. led for one lap before being repassed by Montoya.

On lap 7, David Ragan, who had won the Nationwide Series race the day before, took the lead on the back straightaway with help from Joey Logano, who had assisted Ragan in that win. On lap 8, the first caution flag was waved for a large crash in turn 3. It started when Matt Kenseth in the middle groove moved up in front of Jeff Gordon (driving a retro Pepsi Challenge paint scheme used by Darrell Waltrip in 1983) and made contact, causing Gordon to wobble and come loose on the high side. Gordon's car touched David Gilliland, getting him loose, then came down and collected 14 more cars, including Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Max Papis, Elliott Sadler, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Scott Riggs, A.J. Allmendinger, David Gilliland, and Bobby Labonte. Martin, who had won the Phoenix race the previous week, took a very hard hit, as his car went over Scott Riggs' hood and smashed into the wall on the driver's side. He was also fishtailed by Kahne as his car came to a rest on the infield. Bowyer and Gilliland also were sent head-on into the outside wall.[5]

Under this first caution, Scott Speed got the free pass. Most of the drivers pitted under the caution on lap 9. During the caution, John Andretti, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman each led a lap prior to taking pit stops.[5] At the restart on lap 13, Logano claimed the lead. One lap later, Martin Truex, Jr. claimed the lead with help from Earnhardt, Jr. Truex continued to lead until lap 18 when Montoya passed him for the lead. One lap later, Kurt Busch passed Montoya, and led for a lap before being passed by Denny Hamlin. On lap 22, Jeff Burton took the lead, and led for a lap before being passed by Hamlin. Burton repassed Hamlin for the lead on lap 24. On lap 27, Kurt Busch reclaimed the lead when Burton was shuffled out of line. Around this time, Burton reported having no voltage in his car.[5] One lap later, the second caution was thrown for debris on the track. Burton was penalized for pitting early to replace his car battery.[5]

On the lap 34 restart, Kyle Busch claimed the lead. Busch led for the next seven laps. On lap 38, Martin Truex, Jr. briefly took the lead on the back straightaway before Busch repassed him with a shove from Michael Waltrip. In the middle of the next lap, Truex passed Busch, but lost the lead coming into the tri-oval. On lap 40, Busch, assisted by David Ragan, was travelling alongside Jimmie Johnson, pushed by David Stremme. On lap 41, Busch, pushed by Scott Speed, raced side-by-side with Johnson, who was being pushed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. On lap 42, the third caution flag waved when Michael Waltrip cut down in front of Marcos Ambrose in the tri-oval and spun out. Waltrip saved his car and barely avoided hitting the inside retaining wall. The free pass went to A.J. Allmendinger, 22 laps down after being involved in the first crash.[5]

During the pit stops, Scott Speed stayed out for a lap to claim the lead from Kyle Busch, but returned it to Busch when he pitted on lap 45. The race restarted on lap 46 with Kyle Busch leading. Busch led for two laps before being passed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on lap 48. Earnhardt, Jr. and Martin Truex, Jr. had such a run that they were able to get a few seconds ahead of the main pack. Eanrhardt, Jr. led until he was passed by Matt Kenseth on the inside on lap 50. Kenseth led for three laps before Earnhardt, Jr. repassed him. Earnhardt, Jr. continued to lead for the next seven laps. On lap 60, the fourth caution waved when Kurt Busch spun out in the tri-oval after being touched in the left-rear by David Stremme.[5] Busch's spin happened in exactly the same spot that Waltrip's pin happened in to bring out the previous caution. He also saved his car. During this caution, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne returned to the track multiple laps down after repairs from the big crash. Under the caution, Jeff Burton received the free pass. Waltrip led for a lap during the caution before pitting and giving the lead to Martin Truex, Jr. At the restart on lap 64, Truex, Jr. led the field to the green flag.[5]

The top four drivers - Truex, Elliott Sadler, Earnhardt, Jr. and Kyle Busch - were able to get a strong start and pull away from the lead pack. Truex, Jr. led until he was passed on the inside by Denny Hamlin on lap 75. Two laps later, Juan Pablo Montoya took the lead. He led for one lap before being passed by Earnhardt, Jr., who had a shove from David Stremme.[5] Two laps later, Jimmie Johnson claimed the lead with a shove from Earnhardt, Jr. Johnson led for one lap before being passed by Hamlin. On lap 82, Earnhardt, Jr. and his JR Motorsports driver Brad Keselowski got together on the back straightaway and went below the yellow line. Though Earnhardt, Jr. was able to blend back into the field, Keselowski ended up falling all the way to the back of the lead pack.[5] On lap 83, Sam Hornish, Jr. took the lead.

Two laps later, debris on the back straightaway brought out the fifth caution of the day.[5] Most of the drivers pitted under the caution, while Jeff Burton received the free pass. Joe Nemechek led one lap before pitting, while Paul Menard stayed out and led the field to the restart on lap 88. Menard was passed one lap later by Denny Hamlin, who had help from Joey Logano. Hamlin led for two laps before Jimmie Johnson passed him on lap 92. Johnson led for a lap before Hamlin repassed him. On lap 100, the field began to form a single-file freight train led by Hamlin as Casey Mears led a small line on the inside.[5] On Lap 111, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and a lap-down Jeff Burton hooked up and got such a run they were able to get a five second lead over the main pack for a few laps. Burton was attempting to get back on the lead lap the hard way. On lap 112, Menard pitted, followed a lap later by Reed Sorenson.[5]

On lap 114, Earnhardt, Jr.'s runaway lead vanished as Martin Truex, Jr. claimed the lead, and Earnhardt, Jr. fell back to 11th place. Truex, Jr. led until lap 116, when he was passed by Joey Logano, who was repassed by Truex, Jr. a lap later. On lap 119, Burton got back on the tail end of the lead lap. On lap 121, Brian Vickers passed Truex, Jr. for the lead. Vickers led two laps before Truex, Jr. repassed him with a push from Kyle Busch. One lap later, the sixth caution came out for debris. On lap 125, under caution, Carl Edwards claimed the lead as the leaders pitted. Jeremy Mayfield also stayed out.[5] Both Edwards and Mayfield pitted one lap later and gave the lead to Kyle Busch, who had won the race off pit road.

Kyle Busch led the field to the green flag on lap 127.[5] The field shuffled around during the next seven laps, with Busch and Hamlin swapping the lead several times in the middle of the track on lap 132. On lap 134, Elliott Sadler claimed the lead with help from Brad Keselowski. Sadler led for three laps before Kurt Busch passed him with help from Earnhardt, Jr. On lap 140, Hamlin pushed David Reutimann to the lead, but went around Reutimann at the finish line to lead the lap. One lap later, Casey Mears claimed the lead. Mears led until lap 143 when Jeff Burton passed him with assistance from Earnhardt, Jr., who took the lead from Burton on the next lap on the middle groove.[5] Kurt Busch passed Earnhardt, Jr. on lap 145, and led one lap before Earnhardt, Jr. repassed him.

On lap 146, the seventh caution came out for debris. Under the yellow flag, Jeremy Mayfield stayed out to collect five bonus points for leading a lap as most of the drivers took their final pit stops of the day.[5] Kurt Busch led the field to the green flag on lap 150. He led for four laps before Kyle passed him with help from Earnhardt, Jr. Kyle led for fifteen laps before Matt Kenseth passed him on lap 169. Kenseth led for a lap before Busch repassed him. On lap 171, the eighth caution came out for a pair of single car spins in turn 4. It began when Jeff Burton made contact with Kyle Busch's rear bumper, causing him to wobble, and eventually spin out after contact from Montoya, while behind them, Martin Truex, Jr. got turned loose by David Ragan. Busch was unable to refire his engine initially after coming to a stop on the apron.[5]

Matt Kenseth claimed the lead and led the field to the green flag on lap 175. One lap later, Hamlin got loose but saved his car, and teamed up with Ryan Newman to make a run past the leaders, allowing Newman to take the lead from Kenseth two laps later.[5] On lap 180, the ninth caution flag was waved for a large crash on the back straightaway. It started when Montoya, running in the middle of the lead pack, was touched by Hamlin, causing Montoya to spin into Bobby Labonte and collecting at least nine cars in all. The drivers involved were Martin Truex, Jr., Robby Gordon, Denny Hamlin, David Stremme, Jeremy Mayfield, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson, Michael Waltrip, Sam Hornish, Jr. and Bobby Labonte. Robby Gordon took the worst of it, as his car was sent head on into inside wall, stoving in the entire front portion of his car.[5] Newman continued to lead at the restart on lap 184, drafting with Earnhardt, Jr.

Carl Edwards passed Newman for the lead to take the white flag on lap 187, pushed by Brad Keselowski. Edwards and Keselowski were ahead of Ryan Newman, who was being pushed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. heading down the back straightaway. Coming into the tri-oval, Edwards attempted to block Keselowski, and Keselowski made contact with Edwards' left rear quarter panel. Edwards spun backwards and went airborne. Earnhardt, Jr. slipped past Edwards on the inside, Edwards' airborne car bounced off and smashed Newman's hood. This second hit propelled Edwards's car higher and sent him flying straight into the catch fence. Eight fans were injured by flying debris; the most serious one being a woman whose jaw was broken, and was airlifted to a nearby hospital.

As Keselowski crossed the finish line and won the race, with Earnhardt, Jr. right behind him, Edwards landed hard on his wheels and screeched to a halt in the middle of the track 100 feet away from the finish line. No other cars except Newman had been in the vicinity of Edwards' car, and all of the cars behind him made it past without incident, although Greg Biffle came very close to hitting Edwards. After a few moments, Edwards climbed out of his car, and in a tribute to the 2006 comedy racing film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, jogged to the finish line to a standing ovation from the crowd, which Mike Joy described as "shades of Ricky Bobby".[6]). When Edwards was interviewed on Larry King Live, he responded, "I'm kind of a Will Ferrell fan. He did that at the end of Talladega Nights."[7]

Race results

Pos Starting Pos Car Driver Team Make Sponsor Laps completed Laps led
1 9 09 Brad Keselowski Phoenix Racing Chevrolet Miccosukee Resorts & Gaming 188 1
2 11 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet National Guard/AMP Energy 188 20
3 25 39 Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet U.S. Army/Prelude to the Dream 188 10
4 34 47 Marcos Ambrose JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota Little Debbie / Kingsford / Clorox 188 0
5 8 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Racing Team Toyota Red Bull 188 1
6 28 2 Kurt Busch Penske Racing Dodge Miller Lite 188 13
7 2 16 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 3M 188 1
8 30 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Racing Team Toyota Red Bull 188 2
9 22 20 Joey Logano Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota The Home Depot 188 4
10 20 31 Jeff Burton Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Caterpillar, Inc. 188 6
11 41 43 Reed Sorenson Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge U.S. Air Force 188 0
12 10 6 David Ragan Roush Fenway Racing Ford United Parcel Service 188 2
13 24 98 Paul Menard Yates Racing Ford Turtle Wax/Menards 188 2
14 17 87 Joe Nemechek NEMCO Motorsports Ford Maui Shower Company 188 1
15 6 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet Furniture Row 188 0
16 15 07 Casey Mears Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 188 2
17 13 17 Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Racing Ford DeWalt Power Tools 188 9
18 43 13 Max Papis Germain Racing Ford GEICO 188 0
19 39 19 Elliott Sadler Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge Best Buy 188 3
20 1 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Tums Dual Action 188 7
21 31 55 Michael Waltrip Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 188 1
22 18 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota FedEx Freight 188 28
23 29 14 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet Old Spice/Office Depot 188 0
24 16 99 Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Ford Claritin 187 2
25 23 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Pedigree 187 43
26 33 00 David Reutimann Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 187 0
27 40 34 John Andretti Front Row Motorsports Ford Taco Bell 187 1
28 12 96 Bobby Labonte Yates/ Hall of Fame Racing Ford 179 (accident) 0
29 42 7 Robby Gordon Robby Gordon Motorsports Toyota Jim Beam 179 (accident) 0
30 36 48 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Kobalt Tools/Lowe's 179 (accident) 2
31 37 12 David Stremme Penske Racing Dodge Penske 179 (accident) 0
32 27 41 Jeremy Mayfield Mayfield Motorsports Toyota Big Red 179 (accident) 1
33 3 1 Martin Truex, Jr. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats 179 (accident) 24
34 4 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. Penske Racing Dodge Penske Truck Rental/AAA 179 (accident) 3
35 38 44 A.J. Allmendinger Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge Hunt Brothers Pizza 164 0
36 35 9 Kasey Kahne Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge Budweiser 133 0
37 14 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet DuPont/Pepsi Throwback Challenger 128 0
38 19 29 Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Royal Dutch Shell/Pennzoil 127 0
39 5 33 Clint Bowyer Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet BB&T 8 0
40 26 71 David Gilliland TRG Motorsports Chevrolet TRG 6 (accident) 0
41 21 36 Scott Riggs Tommy Baldwin Racing Toyota None 6 (accident) 0
42 32 26 Jamie McMurray Roush Fenway Racing Ford Crown Royal 6 (accident) 0
43 7 5 Mark Martin Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Carquest/Kellogg's 6 (accident) 0

Aftermath of the last lap crash

In the wake of the crash, the catch fence was raised by ten feet and was strengthened for the fall race in order from preventing such an incident from occurring again. In addition, NASCAR implented a rule for the fall race at Talladega in which drivers were not allowed to bump draft in the corners as an attempt to reduce multicar crashes that often took place at that part of the track. Edwards' crash was compared by NASCAR on Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip to a crash in 1987, when Bobby Allison blew a tire and then he went flying into the catchfence near the start/finish line, ripping out several feet of the fence and injuring several people in the stands. It was this accident that made NASCAR mandate restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega to slow down the cars from these extremely high speeds. Despite congratulating Keselowski for the win quickly they started a rivalry that almost heated up every year. After a few incidents in the NNS with Keselowski in 2009 they were given a warning by NASCAR on their bitter feelings.

Almost a year later, in the final laps of the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Edwards - a few laps down after an early accident in the race with Keselowski - intentionally rushed for Keselowski's bumper and turned Keselowski who crashed in a wreck that resembled what Keselowski did to Edwards at Talladega in 2009. Keselowski climbed out mostly unscathed, and with an injured leg limped down the track to the ambulance. Not long after the crash when reviewing radio sayings NASCAR black-flagged Edwards for the finish of the race when it was learned that Edwards intentionally turned Keselowski. Later that year in 2010 Edwards in the NNS was leading at Gateway Raceway when Brad Keselowski who said during a red-flag period that he had the fastest car; bumped him in turn 1 of the final lap to take the lead. In return Edwards in turn 4 of the final lap spun Keselowski into the pack resulting in a multiple car crash and won the race. Keselowski was rammed hard by charging cars and spun in circles causing minor injuries. Keselowski climbed out with a grimace on his face and in victory lane Edwards confessed publicly that the crash was not an accident. A furious Keselowski said when interviewed "I found a way to beat him but he just wrecked is not cool when I wreck on the straightaway going over 180 miles per hour. I am sure Edwards will think about how great he is or how cool he is in his own little mind but that is not reality." That week Edwards and Keselowski met with NASCAR who penalized both drivers points for the NNS championship standings, fined them both $25,000 and requested them to calm down the rivalry or face indefinite suspension from the sport. [8]


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