It took nearly the entire race Sunday, but the dreaded “Big One” erupted late in the going in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
On lap 168, 20 laps from the end, AJ Allmendinger in third place was pushing second place Chase Elliott behind leader Kyle Busch exiting turn 2. Elliott got loose and behind them the crash erupted. Elliott’s Chevy went airborne with the nose riding along the wall as the Ford of Allmendinger ended up on its roof. A total of 18 cars were involved including front runners Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Erik Jones.
The crash precipitated a red flag from NASCAR for just over 27 minutes.
After turning the car right side up, Allmendinger was able to walk away. After being checked out at the infield care center, Allmendinger took partial blame for the accident.
“It’s just Talladega. It’s all it is,” he said. “The plan worked out. We waited in the back and got up front and I had (Dale Earnhardt) Junior pushing me, I had the best guy pushing me. I’m not sure. Chase (Elliott) was kind of… the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) and the No. 24 of Chase they were kind of moving around and at the time I think (Kevin) Harvick got behind me and we were shoving and Chase opened the door and then kind of closed it and I tried to check up just a little bit and tapped him and when I checked up it was a big wreck after that.”
“It was just one of those things battling for the lead,” he added. “The plan kind of went. We waited at the back and started moving forward. The way the pit cycles worked, we were up front and had a great restart. I had the right guys pushing me. I can’t thank everybody enough that’s part of this. I hated that happened, but it’s Talladega. I’m not a big fan of it, but if you’re up front and you’ve got a chance to go for it, racing happens I guess, here.”
After he was checked out, Elliott spent a few moments with Allmendinger.
“He just apologized,” Elliott said. “I don’t know that it was really his fault per se. He had a big run and he kind of got to my bumper and just happened to be in a bad spot coming up off the corner and was skewed a little bit to my left rear. And when that happens, it just unloads these cars too much. But, I appreciate everybody’s hard work. Our Hooters Chevrolet was really good today. We were able to work our way up towards the front a couple of times. We got hung out a couple of times and finally made our way back forward. I’m really proud of that. Hopefully we can carry some of this speed back to Daytona for the plate race in July and go get ‘em next week in Kansas.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the race.