Ross Chastin Emerges From Chaos for Talladega Win

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA - APRIL 24: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald's Toyota, spins into the wall after an on-track incident as Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 Moose Fraternity Chevrolet, Erik Jones, driver of the #43 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, lead the field to the end of the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 24, 2022 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Ross Chastain only led one lap Sunday, but at Talladega that isn’t unusual. Chastain took control during the final 1500 feet on the final run to the checkered flag to score his second NASCAR Cup series race win and the second for himself and the upstart Trackhouse Racing team in the last five races.

“Holy cow,” Chastain said at the start finish line after smashing a watermelon to celebrate. “I’m always the one going to the top too early, making the mistake. There at the end it was like eight to go, I was like, I’m not going up there again. I did that a couple times today. I was like, I’ll just ride on the bottom. If it works, I’m not going to lose the race for us, I’ll just let them.”

Sunday marked the 30th time at Talladega Superspeedway in the Cup series that a race was decided by a pass on the final lap.

Kyle Larson was in control after snatching the lead from Denny Hamlin with 17 laps to go. He had to cede the top spot to Erik Jones with 3 to go and it appeared heading to the line that Jones would take the victory for Petty GMS Racing.

Coming into the trioval however, Larson jumped out of line behind Jones, hitting the front of the No. 45 Toyota with driver Kurt Busch who was 4th. Busch was sent into the outside wall and a multi car crash erupted behind the leaders. Both Jones and Larson came together, slowed, and Chastain found himself crossing the line .105 of a second ahead of Austin Dillon. Kyle Busch was third with Larson holding on to fourth.

“I feel like I did a pretty near perfect job for me at a superspeedway until the last lap there,” Larson said. “Yeah, I should have, like, I think just kind of faked going high, then went back low. I had that run. Ross helped me with that run. It kind of baited me into going to the outside. Just a little inexperience probably there.”

Martin Truex Jr. was fifth, Jones had to settle for sixth.

“Coming there that last lap, we were single file,” Jones said. “I felt pretty good about it. They kind of doubled up behind us. That top lane was getting some momentum. Looking back, I wish I would have stayed at the bottom and let the 1 push me. I didn’t realize they were coming with that much speed.

“But try to defend on the 5 (Larson), you’re too far ahead already right here. Obviously, a defense on the 5 kind of gives the door to the 1…It is what it is. You’re trying to just win the race. You can only see how much is going on from the seat. You’re trying to make the best decision you can the last 1500 feet.”

William Byron who led the most laps on the day, 38 and won Stage 2, was fifth coming to the checkered flag but got into Bubba Wallace, the fall winner at Talladega who won Stage 1 and led 15 laps on the day, in the final 1500 feet. Wallace spun into the spinning Kurt Busch and both cars crashed into the infield.

Busch was scored 16th, Wallace 17th.

There six cautions on the day, two for multicar crashes.

The first crash of the day came on lap 58, two laps shy of Stage 1, when Daniel Hemric lost an engine between Turn 3 and 4, drifted down onto the apron and back up across the track sweeping up Chase Briscoe and putting both out of the race.

“I hate it for everybody that got caught up in that,” Hemric said. “There were a couple of big hits it looked like; it felt like anyways. I’m disappointed, for sure. I’m super thankful for the opportunity with Kaulig Racing. Just not the way you want it to go.”

The biggest accident of the day came on lap 90 just after a restart for a caution when BJ McLeod lost a wheel.

On the restart, Joey Logano was running inside the top five when he was pushed from behind by Bubba Wallace entering Turn 1. The No. 22 Ford of Logano was sent up into the outside wall and then down across the track and swept up seven other cars: Ty Dillon, Cole Custer, Daniel Suarez, Harrison Burton, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Austin Cindric, and Todd Gilliland. Logano, Suarez, who had led 28 laps, and Dillon were among those done for the day.

“The car got banged up pretty good there,” Logano said. “We were getting pushed back and forth and I was the one that got shuffled to the right and hit the wall and came back in front of the field. That is superspeedway racing.”

Those were the biggest crashes of the day until the final one at the line.

Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell, Alex Bowman, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 10. Polesitter Christopher Bell had to overcome a speeding penalty early in the going, then was spun by his teammate Kyle Busch as they exited the pits during the final round of green flag stops. Bell finished 22nd.

The car the Trackhouse team raced to victory Sunday was the same one Chastain won his first Cup race with at COTA just three races ago.

NASCAR heads to Dover Speedway next Sunday for 400 miles on the 1-mile concrete oval. Alex Bowman is the defending winner.

Photos: NASCAR at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday, Apr. 24, 2022

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results GEICO 500
Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega, Alabama
Sunday, April 24, 2022

1. (19) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 188.

2. (14) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.

3. (12) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 188.

4. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 188.

5. (2) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 188.

6. (16) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 188.

7. (28) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 188.

8. (21) Michael McDowell, Ford, 188.

9. (27) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 188.

10. (24) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 188.

11. (22) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 188.

12. (11) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 188.

13. (23) Aric Almirola, Ford, 188.

14. (33) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 188.

15. (8) William Byron, Chevrolet, 188.

16. (6) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 188.

17. (9) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 188.

18. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 188.

19. (39) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 188.

20. (31) Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, 188.

21. (18) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 188.

22. (1) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 187.

23. (15) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 187.

24. (36) David Ragan, Ford, 186.

25. (38) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 185.

26. (37) BJ McLeod, Ford, 172.

27. (32) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, Accident, 121.

28. (34) Cody Ware, Ford, DVP, 105.

29. (29) Cole Custer, Ford, Engine, 98.

30. (26) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 95.

31. (4) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, DVP, 92.

32. (13) Joey Logano, Ford, Accident, 89.

33. (20) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 89.

34. (25) Harrison Burton #, Ford, Accident, 89.

35. (35) Greg Biffle, Chevrolet, Fuel Pump, 79.

36. (3) Daniel Hemric(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 56.

37. (17) Chase Briscoe, Ford, Accident, 56.

38. (30) Chris Buescher, Ford, Accident, 56.

39. (10) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, Engine, 31.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 148.637 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 21 Mins, 52 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.105 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 28 laps.
Lead Changes: 41 among 16 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Bell 1;D. Suarez 2-3;C. Bell 4-9;D. Suarez 10-35;C. Custer 36;J. Logano 37;K. Larson 38-50;B. Wallace 51;K. Larson 52;B. Wallace 53;K. Larson 54;B. Wallace 55-60;B. McLeod 61;K. Larson 62-64;E. Jones 65;K. Larson 66;E. Jones 67;K. Larson 68-69;E. Jones 70-73;B. Wallace 74;E. Jones 75-82;B. McLeod 83;W. Byron 84-121;*. Yeley(i) 122;E. Jones 123-124;K. Busch 125;E. Jones 126;K. Busch 127-128;R. Blaney 129-151;B. Wallace 152;E. Jones 153-154;B. Wallace 155-159;C. LaJoie 160;K. Busch 161;D. Hamlin 162-170;K. Larson 171-176;E. Jones 177;K. Larson 178-181;E. Jones 182-183;K. Larson 184;E. Jones 185-187;R. Chastain 188.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): William Byron 1 time for 38 laps; Kyle Larson 9 times for 32 laps; Daniel Suarez 2 times for 28 laps; Erik Jones 10 times for 25 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 23 laps; Bubba Wallace 6 times for 15 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 9 laps; Christopher Bell 2 times for 7 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 3 laps; BJ McLeod 2 times for 2 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 1 lap; * JJ Yeley(i) 1 time for 1 lap;Corey LaJoie 1 time for 1 lap; Ross Chastain 1 time for 1 lap; Joey Logano 1 time for 1 lap; Cole Custer 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 23,5,20,24,19,9,45,43,48,47
Stage #2 Top Ten: 24,9,5,19,48,18,10,43,1,45



Greg Engle