Denny Hamlin collects 1st win of year

"But I just didn't want to pass too early. I was going to be the lone soldier on the outside lane, and I was going to be 15th by the time we got back around to the start finish line. So I was just waiting. I was setting up to go by him but just never had the chance. I wish I would have known we weren't going to race all the way back."

Clint Bowyer finished third and was followed by Vickers, his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, as Toyota took the victory and three of the top four spots.

AJ Allmendinger finished fifth in a Chevrolet, followed by Paul Menard and then Harvick, who faded to seventh. Kasey Kahne, Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top 10.

Danica Patrick led two times for six laps, and the crowd roared its approval when she drove to the front early in the race.

Patrick led before her water pressure light came on and she dropped back to cool down the car. The six laps led is a record for Patrick in a NASCAR race, but she finished 22nd.

"It was nice to lead laps," she said. "It made me think real hard about how we're going to stay up front, because we've just got to be there. It was a fast, fast car so we'll be happy to take this one to Daytona."

It was a rough day for Brad Keselowski, a two-time Talladega winner, who darted to the lead on Lap 14 but appeared to not have cleared Patrick before squeezing in front of her car. She tapped the back of Keselowski's car, sending him for a spin through the grass that caused enough damage to drop him six laps off the pace.

"We weren't clear enough to make that," crew chief Paul Wolfe told his driver. "I'll just call it at that: We weren't clear enough to make that move."

Keselowski raced in the heart of the pack after the first incident in an attempt to get his laps back under caution periods. But he was heavily criticized for triggering a 14-car accident with 51 laps remaining. The accident began when Keselowski spun in front of Trevor Bayne, and among those collected were Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson.

"Brad made a pretty bold move early, a mind-boggling move, in going in front of Danica and spun out in front of the field and got away with it," Kenseth said. "This time we weren't so lucky. He was driving really, really, really aggressively to try to get back up there. I'm not sure what the strategy was.

"If it was the other way around and it was anybody else except for him, we'd all be getting lectured."

Gordon also chastised Keselowski.

"I had seen him for several laps driving over his head being pretty aggressive," Gordon said. "I knew he was laps down, but he wasn't doing anybody any favors, nor himself. Then, ultimately, that was a wreck."

Keselowski took the blame for the late accident.

"I just spun out in front of the whole field," he said. "I don't know why, if I just busted my butt on my own or lost a tire, but I feel bad for everyone that got torn up."

On the incident with Patrick that put him in position to have to race hard to get his laps back, he said: "Made a really aggressive move to take the lead and then it all just kind of bottlenecked from there. I don't know if I cut somebody off or got ran over, but just enough to get spun out and tear the car up."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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