The NASCAR Nationwide series took the green flag at Talladega for the 21st time in the series' modern touring incarnation (it raced there several times in the latter 1970s as the Late Model Sportsman series) and the ensuing Aarons 312 became a milestone for Toyota, as Joey Logano stormed to the win and gave Toyota its 200th NASCAR win between the three touring series.
The race saw 37 lead changes among 18 drivers - while a drop from the 54 of last year, it is nonetheless an awesome number and a vindication of sorts for NASCAR, as the cars got some changes to break up tandem drafting after what transpired at Daytona's 300-miler; the result was the race saw plenty of tandem drafting but the tandems didn't monopolize the racing and the race also saw a striking effectiveness in sidedrafting, with tandems stalling out as cars sucked off the air from their sides.
There is plenty to break down in this race, beginning with the rule changes and their effect on the racing. They had an effect on the racing, but ultimately didn't hurt it - though this says more about Talladega's near-immunity to NASCAR rule changes than anything else.
Other breakdowns -
Dale Junior runs strong but comes up short again - Junior is considered the huge favorite for the Winston 500 and he certainly showed muscle, but he came up short again - his Cup failings have been well known but in the Busch Series he hasn't won since 2006, outside of 2010's bizarre (and I dare confess suspicious) monopoly of the Firecracker 250 in an RCR Chevrolet with Wranglers Retro paint. The hype for Junior just keeps going and one has to wonder if it will ever stop given his inability to deliver what is now expected.
Annett's victory bid thrown away - The stupid move of the race came when Michael Annett, going for the win, made the mistake of trying to force open a closing hole; the result was the wreck of the race and injury to Eric McClure. It wasted a spectacular run by Annett and a much-needed victory bid for the sport's ultimate champion, Richard Petty. Annett overall, though, has done okay in Petty's #43, and the overall run is a great omen for the Winston 500 and the resurgence of the Cup #43 for Aric Almirola.
Speaking of dumb moves, here's Danica - It bears repeating because the Race Stream Media won't admit the truth - the fact of being a woman is why Danica Patrick has a racing ride. It's for no other reason, and it showed in another petulent incident on-track as she lost spots at the end and then took it out on Sam Hornish. Give Hornish criticism for swerving, but he had more right to the track than Little Miss Danica. It bears repeating she's only finished on the lead lap nine times and crashed in roughly half her stock car starts.
Kurt Busch won't go down - Kurt Busch has had a star-crossed period beginning with the humiliating release from Penske Racing and the closure of top-drawer rides from him. In the Busch Series he's won once and at Talladega he showed the heart of a champion - so did James Finch's squad as they rallied from a wreck to finish sixth. Busch may have had success come before truly earning it - he's now earning it.
Joe Nemechek, hero of the race - Joe Nemechek had a superior run in last year's 312; he had another awesome run in this one, a renaissance of sorts for one of the series' ironmen - and a reminder that the old guard has a place in racing still.
It made for a great race and the promise of redemption come the future, near and far.