NASCAR did not have a great idea of what kind of racing the new aero package would produce at Talladega this weekend. They allowed teams to change gears after RPMs were up around 9000 and the giant spoiler, roof wicker, air ducts, oil pans and tapered spacer had a lot of teams scratching their heads. Speed was not a problem, even with the lower hp engines since the engines actually gave more power and throttle response than the restrictor plate package gave.
In the end, we saw one of the best Talladega races in a long time in front of a packed stadium – something that really hasn’t been seen yet in 2019. There was plenty of passing and passing for the lead, a couple of crashes and a Big One that didn’t take out half the field. In fact, only 12 cars were listed as officially as DNF at the end of the day. While that is still a fair number, they didn’t all happen at once. A wreck on lap 10 caught up nearly a half dozen cars and forced 4 of those to retire, most notably Kevin Harvick. Denny Hamlin retired at lap 80, mostly due to the damage he sustained in that same early wreck.
The last wreck occurred on the final lap when David Ragan sent Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain into the inner wall. Larson got airborne and tagged after he hit the wall which created a huge barrel roll reminiscent of Rusty Wallace’s 1993 wild ride. If you are not familiar with 1993, he went barrel rolling at both Daytona and Talladega.
Chase Elliott and his Chevy teammates worked their race strategy to perfection at the end. Earlier in the race it didn’t look good for Chevy as Ford and Toyota dominated the running in spite of Chevy winning both Stage 1 and 2. Ty Dillon got his second Stage 1 win making him the lowest driver in the points with a Stage win. Chase Elliott got Stage 2 as the Chevy’s were starting to exert their plan. This is also the first race where Chevy dominated the Top 10, placing 6 cars in the Top 8. Ford ended with 3 cars in the Top 10 and Toyota rounded out the last one in 10th place. In fact Kyle Busch was the only Ford in the Top 18. Erik Jones and Martin Truex, Jr. ended in 19th and 20th.
Chevy’s strategy not only got Chase to Victory Lane for the first time this season, it made a great day for Chevy drivers Alex Bowman (2nd), Ryan Preece (3rd), Daniel Hemric (5th) and Brendan Gaughan (8th).
Brad Keselowski ended in 13th after leading 10 laps. He wins the Coolest Move Award as he spun backwards entering the pits late in the race. He managed to spin his car perfectly into his pit box even though he was facing the opposite direction. If you missed it, you need to see that sick move. https://www.nascar.com/video/franchise/monster-energy-nascar-cup-highlights/pit-stop-pirouette-keselowski-spins-on-pit-road-slides-into-box-backward/
The win gives Hendrick Motorsports and the Chevy teams a bit of a much-needed boost as they head to Darlington where you race the track as much as race any other driver. By the time the teams reach Charlotte and the All Star race, the regular season will be half over. All race wins are currently concentrated in the top 7 drivers, leaving 9 drivers left in the top 16 fighting for a win to fix their spot in the playoffs. Should Kyle Larson or another driver sitting on the outside right now win, it puts even more pressure on the rest of the top 16 drivers. And the way some of these guys are not running, expect to see some chances taken and tempers flare.