The finish was Wise’s fourth of the 2012 season, his first since the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, sixteen races ago. He is now tied with Michael McDowell for the 2012 LASTCAR Cup Series Championship lead, and, with six races to go, he is tied with McDowell with 14 bottom-five finishes apiece. If the season ended at this race, the title would be decided by bottom-ten finishes, which Wise narrowly leads 25-23.
Wise qualified 33rd for Sunday’s race at an average speed of 188.649 mph, ranking him third among the "go-or-go-homers" behind Trevor Bayne and David Stremme. The race began with two NEMCO Motorsports cars trailing the field, driven by Joe Nemechek and Timmy Hill, the latter making his first Cup start since Las Vegas.
Five laps into the race, Wise’s car was the first behind the wall, followed by the two NEMCO Motorsports cars. Timmy Hill’s 42nd-place finish occurred three laps short of giving the #97 its fourth last-place finish in the last five Talladega Cup Series races.
A few underfunded teams enjoyed strong runs on Sunday. Cole Whitt, making his third start for Joe Falk in the #33, was running 11th in the opening laps when he was swept up in a wreck with Carl Edwards and Joey Logano. David Stremme and the #30 Inception Motorsports team flirted with the Top 10 in the middle stages of the race. Michael McDowell finished his first race under power since Bristol in August, coming home 31st. And Casey Mears’ #13 GEICO Ford led 10 laps and was pushing Michael Waltrip to the lead in the final corner when both were swept up in the last wreck.
*This was the first last-place finish for the #26 in a Cup Series race at Talladega since 2001, when Jimmy Spencer’s K-Mart Ford lost the engine 18 laps into the EA Sports 500.
*This was the first time a Talladega Cup Series last-place finisher fell out with overheating problems since 2006, when Derrike Cope’s #74 Sundance Vacations Dodge fell out 9 laps into the UAW-Ford 500.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #26-Josh Wise / 5 laps / overheating
42) #97-Timmy Hill / 8 laps / electrical
41) #87-Joe Nemechek / 12 laps / vibration
40) #33-Cole Whitt / 16 laps / crash
39) #51-Kurt Busch / 98 laps / parked
LASTCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Michael McDowell, Josh Wise (4)
2nd) Scott Riggs, Reed Sorenson, Scott Speed (3)
3rd) Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek, J.J. Yeley (2)
4th) Trevor Bayne, Kelly Bires, Landon Cassill, Brendan Gaughan, Jason Leffler, David Ragan, Brian Vickers (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) #26-Front Row Motorsports, #98-Phil Parsons Racing (4)
2nd) #19-Humphrey-Smith Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports (3)
3rd) #49-Robinson-Blakeney Racing, #79-Go Green Racing, #87-NEMCO Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing, #91-Humphrey-Smith Racing (2)
4th) #21-Wood Brothers Racing, #33-Richard Childress Racing, #34-Front Row Motorsports, #55-Michael Waltrip Racing, #74-Turn One Racing, #83-BK Racing (1)
LASTCAR CUP SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (15)
2nd) Toyota (9)
3rd) Chevrolet (6)