The NASCAR Cup Series action continued on Sunday with a trip to the fastest track on the schedule. The drivers raced around Talladega Superspeedway and tried to avoid massive wrecks while fighting for crucial points. Brad Keselowski ultimately capitalized during overtime and reached Victory Lane.
The final stage of the Geico 500 featured multiple cautions and even more lead changes. Erik Jones briefly led in the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro, as did Ross Chastain in the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro. The race was within reach of ending with the original 188 laps, but a loose tire brought out the caution flag with four laps remaining.
The drivers circled Talladega under caution in preparation for one final two-lap shootout. Once the green flag waved, they hit the gas and pushed for the best position on the 2.66-mile oval while trying to avoid another wreck and caution flag. Matt DiBenedetto had the lead as the white flag waved, but Keselowski pushed past him and captured his sixth win at Talladega.
Multiple issues disrupted NASCAR’s biggest names
Racing fans turned on the Geico 500 with the expectation that there would be multiple wrecks and stunning moments. However, they did not anticipate some of the issues that arose at Talladega. For example, Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson saw his day come to an end in the first few laps due to an engine issue. He entered the race as one of the most consistent drivers in 2020 but did not have the opportunity to compete for the checkered flag.
2004 champion Kurt Busch, on the other hand, dealt with a unique mechanical issue of his own. He headed to the garage in the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro after a fire started in his wheel well. The No. 1 team made repairs and got Busch back onto the track, but he remained multiple laps behind the pack.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman and Team Penske’s Joey Logano both entered Sunday’s race looking to win for the second time this season. However, they headed to the garages after wrecks. Logano flipped at the end of Stage 1 after contact with Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Bowman took a trip through the infield grass after a wreck in Stage 2, sending him to pit road. His team tried to make repairs but ran out of time.
Bubba Wallace won his first-ever Cup Series Stage
The first two stages of the Geico 500 had very different ends for 23XI Racing driver Bubba Wallace. He tried to avoid Logano’s flying Ford Mustang at the end of Stage 1 but still took damage to his roof. Though Wallace joked on the radio after the incident that his underwear was in worse condition than the No. 23 Toyota Camry.
Wallace avoided major incidents during Stage 2. He led 17 laps and showed off an ability to block Ryan Blaney and Hamlin among others. Most importantly, Wallace remained at the front of the pack when a big wreck occurred. Martin Truex Jr. pushed his teammate in Hamlin from behind, sending him sideways into the wall. However, Truex hit the back of the No. 11 Toyota for a second time and also spun out. The collisions sparked a chain reaction that sent several race cars into the infield grass.
As the leader of the pack, Wallace avoided the massive wreck that unfolded behind him. He continued racing to the start/finish line, becoming the Stage 2 winner under caution. This moment marked the first stage win of Wallace’s Cup Series career after 121 previous races, the majority with Richard Petty Motorsports.
The NASCAR Cup Series season continues on May 2 with a trip to Kansas Speedway. The drivers will compete in the Buschy McBush Race 400, a race that the fans named. Fox Sports 1 will provide coverage for the race, which takes place at 3 p.m. ET.