A frenzied finish at Talladega nets Denny Hamlin a win in the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon.
The second race of the Round of 12 was at Talladega Superspeedway. This is the last ‘plate race’ on the schedule this year, and fans look forward to the event living up to the superspeedway hype. With multiple teams working hard to earn points for the next round, the race was extremely tense.
The First Stage
Denny Hamlin was on the pole position for the start of the race. Within the first 26 laps, there were three cautions already knocking multiple drivers out of the race. Denny Hamlin was able to control the top spot up until the competition caution on lap 26.
Joey Logano won the race off pit road, and he was able to jump out to the lead on the restart. The remainder of the first stage was a long battle between the Team Penske Fords and the Hendrick Motor Sports Chevys.
Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, and Chase Elliott continued to exchange the lead throughout the segment. Toward the end of the stage, Aric Almirola was able to jump out front. However, Alex Bowman received a big push, and was sent into the back of Almirola.
Almirola turned into the wall, with multiple drivers receiving damage. The first stage ended under caution with Chris Buescher winning.
The Second Stage
Chase Elliott leads the field to the green flag to kick off the second stage. A quick caution flag is waved after Kyle Busch shreds a left front tire. Erik Jones quickly gains the lead after the race returned to green. Matt DiBenedetto passes him for the lead after the Ford teams organized the top lane.
Another big caution comes out after Jimmie Johnson spins. He collects 13 other cars during the wreck. After a ten minutes red flag for cleanup, Chase Elliott was able to restart the race from the first position.
Elliott’s lead was short-lived with Martin Truex Jr. receiving help from Tyler Reddick. Truex Jr. jumps into the lead and was able to win the second stage of the race.
A Frenzied Finish at Talladega in the Third Stage
Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace jockey for the lead in the early going of the final stage. Bubba Wallace jumps into the lead but was not able to fend off a run from Joey Logano.
Logano was able to control the race for about twenty laps when Bubba Wallace returned once again for the lead. Unfortunately, Wallace had a bad push from behind and couldn’t save his car from hitting the outside wall. The incident brought out the caution as the race moved into overtime.
Denny Hamlin paced the field to the restart with Matt DiBenedetto on the bottom. DiBenedetto gets into the lead for the white flag. It looks like he was going to take home the win as he rocketed down the backstretch. However, Hamlin has a run on the bottom setting up a frenzied finish at Talladega.
Coming out of the fourth turn, Hamlin is forced down onto the apron as the race moves three-wide. It turns into a drag race as the leaders move through the tri-oval. Coming to the line it is Denny Hamlin beating Matt DiBenedetto by a bumper for the race victory.
Only one more race remains in the second round of the playoffs. Two drivers sit in must-win positions. Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola will need to win next week at the Charlotte-Roval. Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon both sit 21 points behind the cutoff line. They do not sit in a must-win position, but they will need a great race and some luck if they wish to advance to the next round of the playoffs. With the race being held at a tricky road course inside Charlotte Motor Speedway, we could see many different scenarios play out.