Chase contenders in thick of Talladega madness

Updated: October 3, 2005, 12:56 AM ET
Associated Press

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Two eight-car crashes in the first 65 laps of Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway hurt the chances of several contenders in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

The first melee in the 188-lap UAW-Ford 500 came on lap 20 when it appeared points leader Jimmie Johnson hit the back of pole-winner Elliott Sadler's car and ignited an accident that also included contenders Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace, took out fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. and sent Michael Waltrip's car barrel-rolling down the track.

On lap 65, contender Ryan Newman hit Casey Mears from behind near the finish line on the 2.66-mile oval and started another wild accident that took out Johnson's already damaged car, added more damage to Wallace's Dodge and also caught up contender Greg Biffle.

Scott Riggs took the wildest ride, his car spinning on its nose before flipping into the air and raining parts and pieces onto Jeff Burton's car.

Jeff Gordon, who had won three of the last four races at Talladega, was also in the second crash, knocking him out of the race.

There were no injuries in either accident.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press