The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

May 5, 2014

Hamlin races to first Talladega Superspeedway win

(Continued)

Here's five things that happened Sunday at Talladega:

WHERE WAS DALE?: Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. thrilled the crowd by leading three different times for 26 laps on Sunday.

But when it was time to race for the victory, he was nowhere to be found.

NASCAR's most popular driver chose to lay back in the field after stopping for gas with 36 laps to go, and he never ran higher than 13th the rest of the day. He finished a disappointing 26th.

He did try to make a move in the outside lane late in the race, but his momentum was stopped when Michael McDowell pulled out in front of him.

"Anytime somebody jumps in the outside lane in front of you, you are not going to shove them on out there, especially a car like that. It just killed us," he said.

DANICA DRIVES TO THE FRONT: For the first time in her career, Danica Patrick led laps at a track other than Daytona.

The crowd gave a thunderous cheer when she drove to the front in the opening laps of the race, and she stayed there for six trips around Talladega. She'd entered the race with only two laps led on the season, both in the Daytona 500, a race she also led last year.

She finished 22nd.

"It was good out front," she said. "I wish I could have stayed there."

TOUGH DAY FOR BK: Brad Keselowski, a two-time Talladega winner, angered many of his fellow drivers for his aggressive driving at Talladega.

The 2012 Sprint Cup champion spun after darting in front of Patrick for the lead early in the race, in part because his crew chief said he didn't have the space to make the move. It caused enough damage to drop him six laps off the pace.

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