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Talladega briefly stopped after 13-car crash and wall damage

By Jenna Fryer, AP Auto Racing Writer

NASCAR’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway was briefly red-flagged so a wall could be repaired after Kurt Busch went airborne in a 13-car crash.

The melee Sunday required a welding truck go onto the track to repair a damaged section of the wall.

The race was messy from the very start with the first caution called before a single lap had been completed. The intensity never ceased and it became mayhem as two lanes of traffic hurtled around the 2.66-mile track.

Jimmie Johnson appeared to be hit from behind by Clint Bowyer, causing Johnson to turn left into Busch’s car. Busch smashed into the outside wall, was hit from behind and his car launched over the car of Cole Custer.

“I didn’t know he was flipping at first because you are looking what’s in front of you and he was above me,” Custer said.

Busch, winner of last week’s playoff race at his home track of Las Vegas, is the only driver already locked into the third round of the playoffs. He was able to quickly climb from his car and was cleared from the infield medical center.

“That’s the nature of the sport — you are on top one week and the next week you are at Talladega,” Busch said.

Playoff drivers caught in the crash were Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon and reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. Bowyer’s race ended after the crash.

Aric Almirola, another playoff driver, was wrecked with three laps remaining in the first stage. Almirola was leading when he was hit from behind by Alex Bowman, and he let Bowman know he was annoyed by driving up to Bowman’s car as the two were on pit road.

“I got hit from behind and turned in the outside fence,” Almirola said. “We were doing everything we needed to do. We were closing in to the end of stage one and it looked like we were going to score a lot of points there, which is exactly what we needed to do.”

Kyle Busch was in the Almirola crash and the later accident in which his older brother went airborne.

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