Elliott Wins Under Caution After Final Lap Wreck

Elliott Wins Under Caution After Final Lap Wreck

For lack of a better word, Talladega Superspeedway is a BEAST – one that cannot be tamed. It’s known for creating ‘The Big One’, in which multiple cars are destroyed in wrecks and dreams of winning are quickly shattered.

Typically, this 500-mile race is run using restrictor plates to limit horsepower.  This year; however, NASCAR introduced a new car package with tapered-spacers that added 150 horsepower, and a 9-inch spoiler to create more downforce and add stability to the cars. This was done in an effort to make the race more competitive and tear up fewer cars.  Based on Saturday afternoon’s practice, in which cars got loose and squirrely when running in a pack, further modifications were made with the addition of a wicker bill on the spoiler.  This small scoop-like rail was intended to add more downforce and stability.

An hour before pre-race ceremonies, NASCAR announced that all 4 cars from Joe Gibbs Racing had failed pre-race inspection due to making unapproved adjustments to their cars.  This meant Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr, and Erik Jones had to start the race from the rear of the field. Joining them at the back of the pack were both drivers from Roush-Fenway (Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr), as well as Reed Sorenson, Cody Ware, and Brendan Gaughan.

LAP 1: Pole-sitter Austin Dillon in the #3 was quickly overtaken by Aric Almirola in the #10.

CAUTION – LAP 10: Darrell Wallace Jr in the #43 got a big run heading into Turn 1 while racing in the 3rd position. With nowhere to go and speed increasing, Wallace tapped the rear of the #12 car of Ryan Blaney who was running directly in front. Unfortunately, Blaney got loose. Wallace had to swerve to avoid turning Blaney but instead spun himself. This collected Michael McDowell, Matt Tifft, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer. Wallace, McDowell, Harvick, and Tifft sustained so much damage they were instantly out of the race.

LAP 26: Jimmie Johnson hit debris on the track and had a tire go down that sent him into the wall where he scraped the right side of the car and incurred substantial damage.  He drove back to pit road where he spent 10 laps getting repairs.

LAP 48: Aric Almirola surrendered the lead to pit for fuel, but was penalized for speeding on pit road. Ty Dillon took over the lead from the outside lane and single-file racing began.

STAGE 1 END – LAP 55: Being single-file, Ty Dillon was uncontested and he won the stage – his second stage win in the last 2 races.

COMMENTARY: Though there were zero cautions in Stage 2, the race was anything but boring with a lead change taking place every few laps (at times, multiple changes in a single lap), and aggressive 2 and 3-wide racing.

STAGE 2 END – LAP 110: With the Chevrolets pitting 2 laps before Fords or Toyotas, they cycled through to the front with Chase Elliott in the lead. Elliott won Stage 2 and picked up a playoff point.

CAUTION – LAP 131: The caution flag flew for debris on the back straightaway. 

CAUTION – LAP 181: While racing mid-pack, Aric Almirola gave a push to the back of Chris Buescher. The push was offside and turned Buescher head-on into the outside SAFER barrier. Buescher’s #37 Chevrolet was then hit again by Matt DiBenedetto at over 200 miles per hour. The collision caused the #37 to go airborne with both front and back end completely destroyed. DiBenedetto, on the other hand, slid down the track where he collected Martin Truex Jr in the #19. All three drivers were out for the day and were cleared by the infield care centre. The race was red flagged for almost 10 minutes as track crews cleared the torn-up race cars.

LAP 188: As Elliott took the white flag to signify one lap to go, Ricky Stenhouse Jr at the back of the pack blew a tire and hit the outside wall in front of the grandstand. Under the new rules, NASCAR didn’t throw the caution as the leader had already taken the white flag, which meant whatever came out next (be it caution or checkers) would end the race.

CAUTION – LAP 188: While all cars were battling for track position and running 5-wide through Turn 2, something was bound to give. David Ragan in the #38 Ford suddenly made contact with William Byron who was running the high groove close to the wall.  The #24 Chevrolet instantly snapped sideways and punted Kyle Larson in the #42. Larson went sailing toward the inside wall at such high speed that the car caught air and lifted all four tires off the ground before flipping over. Larson slid on his roof for a few seconds before barrel-rolling 10 times as the car blew apart in all directions. Somehow, he emerged on his own and was released from the care centre without any injuries or concerns. 

LAP 188: The race ended under caution as Chase Elliott picked up his 1st win of the 2019 season.

RESULTS: 

  1. Chase Elliott
  2. Alex Bowman
  3. Ryan Preece
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Daniel Hemric
  6. Kurt Busch
  7. Ryan Newman
  8. Brendan Gaughan
  9. Aric Almirola
  10. Kyle Busch
  11. Corey LaJoie
  12. Daniel Suarez
  13. Brad Keselowski
  14. Austin Dillon
  15. Ryan Blaney
  16. Paul Menard
  17. Ty Dillon
  18. Reed Sorenson
  19. Erik Jones
  20. Martin Truex Jr
  21. William Byron
  22. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  23. David Ragan
  24. Kyle Larson
  25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  26. Ross Chastain
  27. Parker Kligerman
  28. Cody Ware
  29. Clint Bowyer
  30. Chris Buescher
  31. Matt DiBenedetto
  32. Justin Haley
  33. Jimmie Johnson
  34. Landon Cassill
  35. Stanton Barrett
  36. Denny Hamlin
  37. Matt Tifft
  38. Kevin Harvick
  39. Darrell Wallace Jr
  40. Michael McDowell
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