Leading up to Talladega, the second race in the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs, was a tough week of news within the sport due to many drivers being upset about not only the tire reliability but also and safety of the NEXTGen car. The latter came when Alex Bowman (driver of the #48 Chevrolet Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports) announced he was experiencing concussion-like symptoms and would sit out the 500-mile race in Alabama. This announcement came just two months after Kurt Busch (driver of the #45 Toyota Camry for 23XI Racing) reported his concussion and has yet to return to racing.

With the concern for safety on everyone’s mind, Talladega was nerve-wracking as it is NASCAR’s biggest, fastest, and most unpredictable track – known for wild multi-car crashes. However, for the first time in recent memory, the race ran incredibly clean with minimal incidents, which helped put the intensity of pack-racing on full display.

LAP 1: Christopher Bell secured pole position during qualifying and led the field to the green flag. Bell’s #20 Toyota Camry was overtaken by Aric Almirola in the #10 as soon as they crossed the start line.

CAUTION – LAP 7: The right-side window of Ty Dillon’s #42 Chevrolet popped out of the car due to the draft and fell onto the track, triggering an early caution for debris. Dillon pitted for a new window and continued racing near the rear.

CAUTION – LAP 23: While racing near the back of the pack, the #47 of Ricky Stenhouse delivered a hard shove to the bumper of Harrison Burton in the #21 Ford Mustang. Burton spun and collected Joey Logano, Ty Gibbs, and Noah Gragson (who was filling in for Alex Bowman), along with a few others who all sustained minor damage and continued racing after slight repairs. Surprisingly, this was the only multi-car crash of the entire race.

CAUTION – LAP 44: Corey LaJoie in the #7 brought out the caution flag when the right-front tire blew out and sent LaJoie head-first into the wall in Turn 2. LaJoie’s car was severely damaged, which ended his day early.

STAGE 1 END – LAP 60: After a three-wide battle for the stage win, the #12 of Ryan Blaney crossed the line just .009 seconds ahead of Denny Hamlin to score a playoff point. Behind Blaney and Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Austin Cindric, and Joey Logano rounded out the Top 5. Blaney initially continued to lead after the restart but was passed by Aric Almirola as the field became single-file.

LAP 100: The strategy for green-flag pit stops was mixed throughout the field, causing a major shuffle at the front, which put a group of Chevrolets out in front.

STAGE 2 END – LAP 120: A caution-free second stage allowed Chase Elliott in the #9 Chevrolet Camaro to score the win. Behind the #9 were Justin Haley, Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones.

LAP 172: After the final round of green-flag pit stops cycled through, Ryan Blaney in the #12 found his way back to the lead thanks to drafting help from his Ford teammates.

CAUTION – LAP 183: The caution flag was displayed with just six laps to go when the #16 of Daniel Hemric stalled on the exit of pit road with an apparent engine failure. Hemric needed a push back to the garage, which was unsafe on a green race track.

The race restarted for a green-white-checkered shootout with Ryan Blaney on the bottom and Erik Jones on the top lane of the front row. Chase Elliott restarted on the third row in the bottom line and expertly switched to the top as soon as he was clear of Jones.

CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 188: In a classic Talladega finish, Chase Elliott crossed the line 0.04 seconds ahead of Blaney to claim his 5th victory of the season. This was a rebound for Elliott after finishing 32nd at Texas last week. This win secures Elliott’s spot in the Round of 8.

  1. Chase Elliott
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Michael McDowell
  4. Ross Chastain
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Erik Jones
  7. Todd Gilliland
  8. Daniel Suarez
  9. Austin Cindric
  10. Chase Briscoe
  11. Landon Cassill
  12. William Byron
  13. Austin Dillon
  14. Aric Almirola
  15. Justin Haley
  16. Bubba Wallace
  17. Christopher Bell
  18. Kyle Larson
  19. Noah Gragson
  20. Kyle Busch
  21. Cole Custer
  22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  23. Ty Dillon
  24. Brad Keselowski
  25. Chris Buescher
  26. Martin Truex Jr
  27. Joey Logano
  28. Tyler Reddick
  29. Kevin Harvick
  30. Justin Allgaier
  31. JJ Yeley
  32. Cody Ware
  33. BJ McLeod
  34. Daniel Hemric
  35. Corey LaJoie
  36. Harrison Burton
  37. Ty Gibbs