Chase Elliott Wins at Talladega

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Talladega Superspeedway, Lincoln, AL — April 28, 2019

Today’s Geico 500 from Talladega Superspeedway will be the first race on a 2.5 mile or longer track without restrictor plates since 1987. NASCAR’s rules for 2019 were to have eliminated the need for the device. However, when speeds in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series first practice topped 202 mph, the sanctioning body responded. A 1-inch wide “T” called a wicker was added to the top of the rear spoiler. It worked qualifying speeds were lowered to the 191 mph range.

Pre-Race Penalties

Eight cars were sent to the rear of the field for the start of today’s race. Including all four Joe Gibbs Racing entries. The penalties were for unapproved adjustments. Starting at the rear is not as big a disadvantage as it is at the tracks where it is harder to pass. Still, avoiding the big wreck while working back to the front is always a concern.

The 500 miles is made up of 188 laps around the 2.66-mile Superspeedway. Stage lengths are 55/55/78 laps. Joey Logano(22) was last year’s winner in this event. Team Penske has won six of the last 9 Talladega races. Austin Dillon(3) sits on the pole for the drop of the green flag, Aric Almirola(10) joins him on the front row.

Gieco 500 Front Row, Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

The Start

Brad Keselowski(2) came from 4th starting position to the lead at the end of the 1st lap. Ford Mustangs held the first six spots at the end of Lap 1. The rest of the field strung out three wide behind the leaders.

On Lap 11 Bubba Wallace(43) tapped the rear bumper of Ryan Blaney(12), Bubba got loose and spun in turn 1. The cars of Denny Hamlin(11), Clint Bowyer(14), Michael McDowell(34), and Kevin Harvick (4) all got caught up in the incident.

Kevin Harvick Wrecked Out of the Geico 500 at Talladega, Photo Credit: Torey Fox / NASCAR Digital Media

Pit road opened on Lap 14 and everyone came to get fuel, as they should be able to complete the stage without making another stop. Pit road speeding penalties sent Chase Elliott(9), Ryan Blaney(12), and Kyle Busch(18) to the rear of the field for the restart.

Stage 1

Joey Logano and Daniel Suarez(41) brought the field to green for the restart. Stage One saw 13 lead changes among 10 different drivers. With Ty Dillon(13) taking the green and white checkered flag for the stage win.

Several drivers were close to running out of fuel and opted to slow down and conserve as opposed to racing to the finish and running out on the track.

Martin Truex Jr.(19) was penalized for too many men over the wall during his stop and had to restart at the rear of the field.

Stage 1 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
13 Ty Dillon 10
88 Alex Bowman 9
3 Austin Dillon 8
9 Chase Elliott 7
41 Daniel Suarez* 6
6 Ryan Newman 5
24 William Byron 4
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* 3
18 Kyle Busch 2
95 Matt DiBenedetto 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage 2

Elliott led the race off pit road, he and Alex Bowman(88) paced the rest of the pack to the restart line at the beginning of Stage 2. Bowman led briefly until Keselowski returned to the front with what appeared to be the fastest car on the track.

Pit stops began at mid-Stage. With the Ford strategy, championed by Mark Rushbrook of Ford Performance, proving to be so successful. A total of 11 Chevrolets pitted together. The Mustang drivers followed suit a few laps later. As tire wear is not a big factor, most stops were for fuel only.

Chase Elliott won the stage, with Alex Bowman again finishing 2nd.

Stage 2 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
9 Chase Elliott 10
88 Alex Bowman 9
24 William Byron 8
12 Ryan Blaney* 7
3 Austin Dillon 6
1 Kurt Busch 5
42 Kyle Larson 4
8 Daniel Hemric 3
22 Joey Logano* 2
18 Kyle Busch 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

Having avoided the “Big One” through the first two stages, the final 78 laps could get intense. The front row remained the same after Stage ending pit stops. With Elliott and Bowman on the point.

With 57 laps to go, NASCAR brought out the caution for debris on the backstretch. This gave the leaders an opportunity to pit for tires and fuel. Michigan’s Erik Jones(20) grabbed the lead off pit road, Blaney restarts next to Jones. Three and four wide racing jumbled the field behind Jones as drivers shuffled for position looking for teammates to help push.

The cars of Team Penske, Logano, Keselowski, Blaney, and Paul Menard(21) got together and raced off to the lead.

Final Pit Stops

Pit stops began with 34 laps to go as the Chevrolets again pitted in mass. The Fords pitted on the next lap. Keselowski locked up the brakes coming to pit road and spun around facing the wrong way. Remarkably, his pit stall was at the beginning of pit road and he slid into his pit perfectly positioned. Keselowski’s crew serviced the car, he spun it around and exited down pit road. The cool maneuver cost Brad a significant amount of track position.

After pit stops cycled through Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(17) held the lead with Logano in 2nd. With 21 laps to go Logano was back out front. He effectively blocked the advancing lines behind him as the leaders diced three-wide.

The Laps Wind Down

With 15 laps to go Logano Led Almirola, DiBenedetto, Kurt, and Kyle Busch. Down to 10 laps from the finish, Logano still led Kyle Busch, Stenhouse, Truex and Kurt Busch made up the top 5.

The big one was not that big. With 7 laps to go Almirola nudged Chris Buescher spinning him down the backstretch. The cars of DiBenedetto, Truex, and Justin Haley(77) were involved in the wreck. NASCAR displayed the red flag to clean up the mess and allow the race to end under the green flag.

The Finish

When the race went back under yellow, several of the lead pack pitted for fresh tires. The green waved with 4 laps to go. Bowman pushed Elliott past Logano and into the lead, pushing and shoving began in the closing laps scramble.

Stenhouse spun in the tri-oval as the leaders took the white flag. Several cars tangled going down the backstretch.

NASCAR was forced to display the yellow flag just as the cars began their race to the finish in Turn 3. Elliott the leader at the time of the caution was declared the winner. A wild finish would likely have gotten crazier had the race been able to finish under green. Big shout-outs to rookies Daniel Hemric(8) in 4th and Ryan Preece(47) who finished 3rd, just behind another young gun, Alex Bowman in 2nd.

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Next week the series visits Dover International Speedway. The Monster Mile is sure to keep the excitement level high in the Gander RV 400.

 

 

Results of the Geico 500 from Talladega Superspeedway

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 9 Chase Elliott 188
2 88 Alex Bowman 0.035 188
3 47 Ryan Preece 0.307 188
4 8 Daniel Hemric 0.423 188
5 22 Joey Logano 0.525 188
6 1 Kurt Busch 0.791 188
7 6 Ryan Newman 0.827 188
8 10 Aric Almirola 1.119 188
9 18 Kyle Busch 1.240 188
10 62 Brendan Gaughan 1.313 188
11 32 Corey LaJoie 1.483 188
12 41 Daniel Suarez 1.681 188
13 3 Austin Dillon 1.885 188
14 2 Brad Keselowski 2.633 188
15 13 Ty Dillon 3.002 188
16 21 Paul Menard 3.121 188
17 12 Ryan Blaney 4.802 188
18 27 Reed Sorenson 31.85 188
19 20 Erik Jones 33.62 188
20 19 Martin Truex Jr Wreck 188
21 24 William Byron Wreck 187
22 81 Jeffrey Earnhardt Wreck 187
23 38 David Ragan Wreck 187
24 42 Kyle Larson Wreck 187
25 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Wreck 187
26 15 Ross Chastain -1 187
27 96 Parker Kligerman -2 186
28 51 Cody Ware -4 184
29 14 Clint Bowyer -6 182
30 37 Chris Buescher -6 181
31 95 Matt DiBenedetto -6 181
32 77 Justin Haley -7 180
33 48 Jimmie Johnson -10 178
34 0 Landon Cassill -34 154
35 52 Stanton Barrett -55 132
36 11 Denny Hamlin -107 80
37 36 Matt Tifft -176 11
38 4 Kevin Harvick -176 11
39 43 Bubba Wallace -177 10
40 34 Michael McDowell -177 10

 

Points / Playoff Standings

Rank Driver Points Wins
1 Kyle Busch 427 3
2 Denny Hamlin 367 2
3 Brad Keselowski* 337 2
4 Joey Logano* 412 1
5 Martin Truex Jr. 328 1
6 Chase Elliott 307 1
7 Kevin Harvick* 350 0
8 Kurt Busch 318 0
9 Ryan Blaney* 299 0
10 Clint Bowyer* 288 0
11 Aric Almirola* 288 0
12 Daniel Suarez* 260 0
13 Ryan Newman* 246 0
14 Austin Dillon 239 0
15 Jimmie Johnson 238 0
16 Paul Menard* 234 0
Playoff Cut Line
17 Erik Jones 230 0
18 Alex Bowman 221 0
19 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 220 0
20 Kyle Larson 217 0

* Ford Mustang Drivers