TALLADEGA, Ala. — It was a fast Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway but when all was said and done, the biggest moment of the night belonged to Dawsonville-native Chase Elliott.
It’s been rare for a NASCAR race to end under caution, but it did this time around as Kyle Larson went for a tumble in a last-lap blow over. The good news was that he was ok after the scary accident that ended the event.
Elliott cross the line leading his fellow Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman to the finish, but the win was still important for Elliott who waited until October last year to score a win.
“It was huge,” Elliott said on the front stretch about the Chevy’s working together. “We just had a plan, executed it really well. Obviously, it could have gone both ways. Fortunately, everybody stayed together, stayed the course.”
It was a great day for two more Thursday Thunder alumni who placed well even with the catastrophic end. Joey Logano crossed the line in fourth place while rookie Daniel Hemric took home fifth.
“How ’bout that,” Hemric said. “It’s a day that this entire 8 team needed. It was good to see Chevrolet, all the drivers, teams and crews put in the effort to communicate over the past few weeks. To try and stay dedicated and committed to each other, we never had such unity on the racetrack like we had today. That’s what ultimately led to our best finish as a group. I’m proud of that.”
Down the line, it wasn’t so bad for Peachtree City born Reed Sorenson, the part-time racer was able to log an 18th place finish when all was said and done.
It wasn’t such a good day at the end for David Ragan. Ragan was running well in the event, led some laps and really carried his No. 38 Shriners Hospital’s Ford well throughout the event. Despite finishing outside of the top-10 a couple of times throughout the stages, Ragan’s day ended with a wrecked car and a 23rd place finish.
“I was in the middle there after we took the white flag and I just got loose and wrecked the 24,” Ragan said. “I spun him out across my nose and he collected a few other cars. That last wreck was my fault. I was pretty stupid to wreck like that when you are running 10th or 15th on the last lap. We didn’t have a shot to win. When you get three-wide there is just nowhere to go and everybody was pushing and shoving and my car just jumped sideways and when I corrected it I caught the 24’s left rear and spun him across my nose. That was unfortunate for our team. Our Mustang was fast all day and had a lot of fun out there but just made a stupid mistake there at the end.”
Before the biggest accident of the race happened, the number of locally rooted drivers was pared a lot. Chris Buescher’s day ended with a huge crash on lap 183 when his No. 37 car impacted the backstretch wall.
”We got wrecked from behind,” Buescher said to media outside of the care center. “I wouldn’t do anything different. We were in a good spot. Speedway racing drives me insane. I’ve been tired of Speedway racing. Me and (Matt) DiBenedetto were just talking about it. We don’t care for it. Don’t care for getting wrecked every time we have cars that are competitive, and the guys do a great job and we get pushed around and left out to dry. No one likes having to race new cars.”
Another Thursday Thunder alumnus who struggled was Darrell Wallace Jr. as his day ended with a wrecked race car on lap 10.
”It’s just unfortunate, but I tried not to wreck my buddy Ryan, and it cost our day and some others. I apologize,” Wallace said. “We should have been wrecked a couple of laps before that. The No. 11 of Denny Hamlin had a big run on us and let me in throughout the middle, so I appreciate that. We were fast. I was just trying to ride and not wreck somebody, and I wrecked myself.”
A unique finish in the race for Brendan Gaughan highlighted the non-regular racers this week. Gaughan ran his iconic No. 62 Chevy to a top-10 finish after starting at the rear of the field.
”This stuff’s easy,” Gaughan said jokingly. “But I miss this sport it is a lot of fun. I don’t miss it enough to say that I want to be here every week. I can hold my breath for a minute-45, I now know that. I’m here four times a year and we end up with a chance to win it every time we show up. We’ve finished three-times in the top-10.”
The NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series travels north to Dover for next week’s race.