Find out whether Talladega Superspeedway throws some curveballs out way again with live highlights and updates from the GEICO 500.
There’s nothing quite like racing at Talladega Superspeedway. Even compared to Daytona, things can get crazy there, and this year’s GEICO 500 isn’t likely to be any different. The 2018 edition is poised to add even more uncertainty than usual.
That’s because a frightening practice crash that sent Jamie McMurray upside-down caused NASCAR to choose to shrink the openings in the restrictor plates even more, with the goal of reducing the likelihood of wrecks that send cars airborne. But it will also inevitably slow the cars and make them handle differently in the draft, which is a headache teams weren’t necessarily expecting.
What we can still expect is the unexpected. Kyle Busch is going for his fourth straight victory, but it won’t be easy with so may factors outside his control at Talladega. Restrictor plate specialists like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. might have something to say about things, and this is one track that has produced first-time and only time winners in the past.
Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick managed to get out in front of the pack right after the green flag, and it didn’t stay a two-wide pack for as long as it sometimes does. Cars got organized into a single line for the most part, flying around at more than 200 mph.
Without a ton of drama out the front, most of the Stage 1 intrigue revolved around green flag pit stops. A couple of drivers, including Kurt Busch, received pit road speeding penalties, while some drivers who stayed out got to lead laps, among them Bubba Wallace.
Kurt Busch ended up on the tail end of the lead lap right in front of leader Brad Keselowski, but perhaps out of courtesy to a fellow Ford driver, Brad K. never led a charge to pass the 41.
Stage 1 results
- Brad Keselowski, 10 points plus 1 bonus playoff point
- Joey Logano, 9 points
- Martin Truex Jr., 8 points
- Kyle Busch, 7 points
- Paul Menard, 6 points
- Denny Hamlin, 5 points
- Ryan Blaney, 4 points
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 3 points
- Kevin Harvick, 2 points
- Jimmie Johnson, 1 point
Keselowski got a good jump on the green flag that began Stage 2, but William Byron was able to steal the lead from him. Green flag pit stops shuffled the field a little bit, but then the first multi-car wreck of the day occurred, catching Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, Trevor Bayne and Martin Truex Jr. up in its clutches.
There was some exciting side by side racing coming down the stretch in Stage 2, with Paul Menard and Denny Hamlin leading different lines and vying for the lead. Ultimately, Menard prevailed, winning the stage as six Ford drivers showed the way.
Stage 2 results
- Paul Menard, 10 points plus 1 bonus playoff point
- Joey Logano, 9 points
- Ryan Blaney, 8 points
- Kevin Harvick, 7 points
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 6 points
- David Ragan, 5 points
- Jimmie Johnson, 4 points
- Kurt Busch, 3 points
- William Byron, 2 points
- Kyle Busch, 1 point
Unfortunately, what this race didn’t have in the first two stages was “The Big One,” which meant it was probably still to come. It arrived with less than 25 laps to go, when William Byron got the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson loose and then all heck broke loose.
Some good cars were among the 14 involved in this wreck, including Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch and Byron.
Somehow, 22 cars were still on the lead lap after that incident, with Joey Logano out in front and a bunch of drivers lined up behind him trying to figure out if there was a move to be made to pass him.
Kurt Busch had the best shot at it, moving up to second, but there was never any truly organized effort to get lined up behind him, and drivers were switching lanes too often as well. Logano held on to win his first Cup Series race of the 2018 season and first since the spring Richmond race in 2017.