Jeff Gordon tied a record set by David Pearson by picking up the pole for the 2012 Aaron's 499. This was the twentieth consecutive season that Gordon scored at least one pole start.
A.J. Allmendinger started second in his Penske Dodge.
The Fords of Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola made up row number two while the Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne rounded out the top five.
Point leader Greg Biffle qualified seventh while second place in points Dale Earnhardt Jr. whom many had picked to break his 138-race winless streak this weekend qualified in the middle of the pack. Earnhardt rolled off eighteenth.
Drop Of The Green
The start of the race was delayed by an hour as the jet dryers were still on the track cleaning up from a morning rain shower.
When the green flag finally flew Jeff Gordon got a good push and lead the field through turns one and two. However he was on his own and Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola stormed past him down the backstretch. That wasn't enough to lead a lap though as Tony Stewart got a big push from Matt Kenseth and those two stormed into the lead to lead lap one.
The inside lane became the fast way around and Stewart and Kenseth settled in to lead a single-file line. The outside lane didn't appear to be able to make much progress in the early laps.
Stewart and Kenseth lead the early laps while the drivers seemed to be content to log some laps in relative safety.
With 46 laps to go drivers were eyeing up the final round of pit stops when "The Big One" finally happened. A number of drivers had run out of fuel and limped to pit road when finally trouble struck. Aric Almirola ran out of fuel and Dave Blaney got into the back of him and both drivers spun up into the pack. Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Terry Labonte, Juan Pablo Montoya and Landon Cassill were also caught up in the mess for a total of nine cars.
Fortunately no one was injured but some fast cars had their hopes ruined.
Chasing The Checkers
After NASCAR cleaned up the mess the field took the green flag for the final time with 38 laps to go.
Matt Kenseth was fast all day but suffered a penalty for pitting too soon during that caution which forced him to restart in the back of the pack. In true restrictor-plate form the penalty didn't matter much when Brad Keselowski pushed Kenseth into the lead with 21 laps to go.
The intensity level was rising.
Kenseth and Denny Hamlin were side-by-side for the lead when Casey Mears cut a tire and spun with only thirteen laps to go. Kenseth stayed out while Hamlin pitted/
Matt Kenseth got a good push from Kurt Busch on the restart and took the lead on the bottom. Just a couple of laps later Busch spun off of the nose of Brad Keselowski bringing out another caution.
Only four laps remained when the green flag flew. Within a few yards of the green flag they wrecked once again with another multi-car mess which affected everyone from fourth place on back. Eleven cars ended up involved in the wreck including Greg Biffle, A.J. Allmendinger, Denny Hamlin,Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick.
This set up a green-white-checkered Talladega finish.
When they got it cleaned up and ready to race again Matt Kenseth picked the outside lane in front of Greg Biffle who lined up fourth. Brad Keselowski lined up on the inside lane with Kyle Busch behind him in third.
Kenseth got a push from Biffle and they got to the lead and dropped too the bottom in a fast Ford tandem. Kyle Busch pushed Keselowski around the leaders to lead the white flag lap.
Kenseth was in third with a little bit of a gap on his help which allowed Keselowski and Kyle Busch to battle for the win. Busch couldn't make a move and Keselowski went on to claim Dodge's first Talladega victory since Dave Marcus won here in 1976.
- Brad Keselowski
- Kyle Busch
- Matt Kenseth
- Kasey Kahne
- Greg Biffle
- Clint Bowyer
- David Ragan
- Trevor Bayne
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Jeff Burton
Point leader Greg Biffle Posted another top five finish which allowed him to maintain his point lead. Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored another top ten but slipped one place back to third behind Matt Kenseth.
At the back end of the top ten both Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman slipped from the top ten and were replaced by Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer.
The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings: