Ross Chastain makes last-lap pass to win Cup race at Talladega

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In a last-lap shuffle, Ross Chastain snuck through to win the Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon.

Exiting Turn 4 on the final lap, Erik Jones led the field in the inside lane but found himself too far out front as the drafting pack behind him neared. Kyle Larson moved high to dart around Jones but Jones went to block. As cars crashed behind them, Chastain stayed low and charged past both to score his second career win, both coming in the past five races.

Chastain, who won at Circuit of the Americas on March 27, joins William Byron (Atlanta, Martinsville) as the only drivers to win multiple races this season. Chastain used the same car at Talladega that he used to win at COTA.

MORE: Talladega results, points

MORE: What drivers said

The crash behind the leaders was first triggered when Byron was blocked high by Bubba Wallace. Byron had to check up and was turned into the outside wall by teammate Alex Bowman. Moments later, Wallace’s teammate Kurt Busch was walled when Larson moved right to pass Jones. Busch bounced off the wall and clipped Wallace, sending him head-on into the SAFER barrier. Corey LaJoie was also sent for a slide when Michael McDowell hit his left rear exiting the tri-oval.

On Lap 56, Daniel Hemric‘s engine lost a cylinder while running mid-pack in the bottom lane. The pack stacked up and Hemric’s No. 16 Chevrolet was sent spinning to the apron before catching and sliding back into traffic. Hemric was clobbered by Chase Briscoe, who was subsequently smashed by Chris Buescher, ending all three drivers’ days.

On a Lap 90 restart, Bubba Wallace was fourth in the outside lane trying to shove the line forward. But contact to Joey Logano‘s bumper shot the No. 22 Ford to the right and into the wall. Logano bounced back into traffic, hit hard by Ty Dillon and others in a nine-car accident, the most significant of the day. Among those out of the race were Logano, Dillon, Daniel Suarez and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Completing the top five behind Chastain were Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Larson and Martin Truex Jr. Jones, Elliott, McDowell, Bowman and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 10.

Despite challenging in the lead draft late, Denny Hamlin was forced to pit in the closing laps because he was short by one second’s worth of fuel. Hamlin finished 18th.

There were no issues in post-race inspection. NASCAR is taking the cars of Larson, Truex, Bowman, Harvick, Hamlin and Brad Keselowski back to its R&D center and wind tunnel for further inspection.

Stage 1 winner: Bubba Wallace

Stage 2 winner: William Byron

Who had a good race: With a fourth-place finish, Kyle Larson picked up his first top-five finish on a superspeedway in his 31st attempt. Larson led 32 laps Sunday despite entering the race with just 31 circuits led on superspeedways. … Michael McDowell, who finished ninth at Bristol dirt, picked up his second straight top-10 finish by finishing eighth at Talladega. It’s his third of the year in addition to a seventh-place finish at Daytona. … Erik Jones, who led 25 laps, finished sixth for his third top 10 of the year.

Who had a bad race: One week after finishing runner-up at Bristol dirt, Tyler Reddick finished 39th — dead last — at Talladega. Reddick suffered an engine failure at Lap 31 that relegated him to the garage early. … Chase Briscoe, who spun Reddick in a battle for the win last week at Bristol, finished 37th after his involvement in the aforementioned incident on Lap 56. It’s his second finish outside the top 20 in the past two weeks and second DNF of the year. … Joey Logano faced his first DNF of the year after crashing out at Lap 90. The contact sent Logano to the garage with a 32nd-place finish.

Notable: Chastain, who rallied to the win following a speeding penalty at Lap 36 that left him a lap down, led only the final lap Sunday en route to victory lane, the second week in a row the leader led just one lap. Chastain had never finished better than 12th at Talladega and wins courtesy of the 30th last-lap pass in Talladega history. … The final 63 laps went caution-free.

Next race: The series heads northeast to Dover Motor Speedway on May 1 (3 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.