Ross Chastain won the Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon in a last-lap scramble.
Erik Jones led the field out of Turn 4 on the penultimate lap in the inside lane, but he got too far ahead as the drafting pack behind him approached. Kyle Larson moved high in the air to try to get around Jones, but Jones countered with a block. Chastain stayed low and pushed passed both cars as vehicles wrecked behind him, earning his second career victory in the last five races.
Talladega Superspeedway hosted the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time this season. While the Next Gen vehicle has altered a few things, racing at NASCAR’s largest track remains all about the finish. Everything else about going around the 2.66-mile track revolves around getting to the head of the pack and getting ready to cross the finish line.
Chastain, who won at Circuit of the Americas on March 27, is the only driver to win multiple races this season, joining William Byron (Atlanta, Martinsville).
Bubba Wallace, the now-perennial superspeedway front-runner for 23XI, led the first stage under caution. The field was chasing down a freight train of all four Hendrick Motorsports cars, lead by William Byron, towards the finish of the second stage. The stage was won by Byron, who was followed by Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.
When Byron was blocked high by Bubba Wallace, it caused a series of crashes behind the leaders. Alex Bowman turned his teammate Byron against the outside wall while he was checking up. Meanwhile, Larson moved right to pass Jones, Wallace’s teammate Kurt Busch got walled.
Busch slammed into Wallace as he rebounded off the wall, slamming him into the safety barrier. When Michael McDowell hit his left rear entering the tri-oval, Corey LaJoie was also sent for a slide.
Daniel Hemric’s engine lost a cylinder while running in the bottom lane mid-pack on Lap 56. Hemric’s No. 16 Chevrolet spun to the apron before catching and sliding back into traffic as the pack piled up. Chase Briscoe smashed Hemric, who was then crushed by Chris Buescher, putting an end to the day for all three drivers.
Bubba Wallace was fourth in the outside lane on a Lap 90 restart, attempting to push the line forward. The No. 22 Ford, however, was thrown to the right and into the wall after making contact with Joey Logano’s bumper.
Logano re-entered the race after being slammed into by Ty Dillon and others in a nine-car accident, the day’s most serious. Logano, Dillon, Daniel Suarez, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were all eliminated from the race.
Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Larson, and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five behind Chastain. The top ten were Jones, Elliott, McDowell, Bowman, and Kevin Harvick.
Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson of Joe Gibbs Racing lead the race in a single-file line after the final round of pit stops. As Hamlin lagged and eventually ran out of gas, Larson grabbed command at the front by swinging around the outside.
Like in the second stage, it appeared that Byron and Elliott would drag a second line up to the front to rejoin with their Hendrick teammate, but Erik Jones of Petty GMS jumped out in front of the second line.
Jones would finally get ahead of Larson and lead the field to the finish line. Larson strayed from the track in an attempt to win the race, crashing both 23XI cars into the wall.
Jones moved up to block Larson’s run, allowing Ross Chastain of Trackhouse to go unimpeded to the finish line. Chastain beat Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon by a tenth of a second in the GEICO 500, the watermelon farmer’s second victory of the season.