Talladega, AL -- David Ragan avoided two major wrecks and then received pushing help from his teammate, David Gilliland, to take the lead on the final lap and win Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, a race delayed 3 hours, 36 minutes due to rain.
Ragan and Gilliland drafted through the field during the last lap before Ragan pulled in front of Carl Edwards, the pole sitter, for the lead between turns 3 and 4. Ragan then beat Gilliland to the finish line by 0.2 seconds for his second career Sprint Cup Series victory.
It was the maiden win in NASCAR's premier series for Front Row Motorsports, an underfunded three-car operation. Ragan's first victory in the series came in July 2011 at Daytona International Speedway (64 races ago) when he drove for Roush Fenway Racing.
Matt Kenseth led 142 laps and ran in front for the final restart, but Kenseth was shuffled back in the draft during the two-lap overtime finish and wound up finishing 8th. A 12-car accident on the backstretch set up the green-white- checkered finish.
Edwards finished third, while Michael Waltrip and Jimmie Johnson, who won the Daytona 500 in February, rounded out the top-five.
The first "big one" -- a 16-car pileup -- occurred on lap 42. After 125 laps were completed, heavy rain forced NASCAR to stop the race in what would be a lengthy delay. NASCAR felt there was enough daylight left to conclude the scheduled 500-mile distance.
Denny Hamlin competed in his first race since he suffered a serious back injury during an accident six weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Hamlin ran the first 23 laps under green before the first caution came. He pitted during the caution period and made the driver exchange with Brian Vickers in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Vickers was later caught up in the first major wreck. He returned to the track after spending more than 40 laps in the garage for repairs. Hamlin was credited with a 34th-place finish.
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