Well… That was just a tiny bit disappointing.
Talladega went to an almost traditional, just about can’t have a Sprint Cup race without it, green-white-checkered finish.
Before the green had even waved on the start, NASCAR decided that for this race at Talladega there would be only one green-white-checkered, if it came to it.
Which, of course, it did…
Jamie McMurray blew the engine with five laps to go. Yeah! The green-white -checkered finish is on.
Technically, Greg Biffle was on the first slot for the restart but he pitted just before the pace car dropped leaving Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on the front row. The green. Someone didn’t get the memo and the push behind the front two caused a spin by Johnson in the #48. The yellow was thrown before the start-finish line.
So… That G-W-C wasn’t really “the one” because they hadn’t crossed to race. So there will be another, only one, green-white-checkered.
They line up and are off, again. Trevor Bayne goes on the outside of Kevin Harvick’s ailing #4 a few rows back. Harvick goes up as the #6 passes to get out of the way, maybe…
The #4 clips the #6. The Talladega “big one” sets cars bouncing off each other in true NASCAR pin ball action as the #22 and the #88 go over the start-finish line. When the yellow drops it is determined that Logano and the #22 was indeed out front for a caution flag finish.
This gives Logano a sweep of the Contender Round with all three wins and puts Dale, Jr. out of the CHASE as he was in a “must win” scenario for Talladega. It was, in many ways, a Dale Jr. day up to these last laps and restarts. The #88 was up front, fell back, took a drive through penalty and was even one position from a lap down. Dale drove back to the front and was there to race Logano, ultimately, for the yellow flag.
For the fans the final laps and the finish gave many a convenient method for disposing of late race trash as the fences weren’t nearly strong enough to keep the cans and other debris from flying out on the track as Logano was doing the burn out.
Drivers caught in the “big one” let emotions and frustrations out and accusations, subtle or direct, were quickly let loose. Everything from the CHASE format itself to finger pointing to a possibility that the crash was deliberate to hold position in the field was thrown out in post race interviews.
Whatever… Drivers still in The CHASE for the Eliminator Round are: Joey Logano | Carl Edwards | Jeff Gordon | Kurt Busch | Brad Keselowski | Martin Truex Jr | Kevin Harvick | Kyle Busch.
Gordon, by the way, started on pole and raced well through the day. His final season continues in the CHASE. Logano may have a 3 consecutive win momentum going forward but Gordon has, after a season that has been somewhat lackluster, a huge hunger to make an exit with a Cup.
The CHASE continues to Martinsville for the start of a new round of three races. By the time drivers get on the track for the only short track in the CHASE Talladega will be in the mirror but the drama from it has a big chance to carry over. As a side note, Dale Jr. won at Martinsville last Fall after being eliminated from the CHASE the week before. That points back to the rest of the field beyond the CHASE. All of the drivers are going for the front. Some for the championship but all have a thirst for the win as their fans, sponsors and the next season look on.
We’ll see at the races!