The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

May 6, 2013

David Ragan steals last-lap victory at Talladega

(Continued)

Edwards wound up third for a sweep of the top three spots for Ford.

Michael Waltrip, who turned 50 this week and was running his first race since the Daytona 500, was fourth, and Daytona 500 winner Johnson was fifth after thinking the win was going to come down to him, Kenseth or Edwards.

"They came up on us so fast that I could see Carl trying to block and he finally said there's no real way to block the speed that they're bringing," Johnson said. "Those two had blown by and David had made it back to the checkered flag. So, it's really cool for that team."

Smith finished sixth and was followed by Martin Truex Jr., Kenseth, Scott Speed and Aric Almirola.

Denny Hamlin successfully returned from a compression fracture in a vertebra by turning 23 laps before getting out of his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for replacement driver Brian Vickers during the first caution. Hamlin climbed out through a roof hatch and Vickers slid in through the window quickly enough to keep the No. 11 on the lead lap.

"It was all about just going through the motions and getting the process of making a comeback, getting that started," Hamlin said. "This is the first week of a comeback. This is going to be the start of everything, so anything that Brian gets us for points today is strictly a bonus and we're going to start next week in Darlington with our hair on fire."

But it was short-lived hope for Hamlin.

A mere 18 laps later, before Hamlin had even completed his media interviews, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch triggered a 16-car accident on lap 43 that collected Vickers. Hamlin scurried to his garage stall to survey the damage on the car, where Vickers sat with the window net still up.

Vickers finished 34th in Hamlin's car.

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