Toyota’s pit strategy at Talladega was brilliant…until it wasn’t


A group of Toyota’s nearly made a brilliant move during Sunday’s race at Talladega. On lap 152 six Toyota’s led by Tyler Reddick broke from the pack and pitted under the green flag.

Everyone in the field still needed at least one more pit stop to make the end of the race on fuel. The Toyota’s that pitted early would have had enough fuel to make it to the end and would have cycled to the lead as the rest of the field needed to pit; had there not been a caution.

Unfortunately, that group of Toyota’s were the cause of the caution everyone else needed.

On lap 157 the six Toyota’s were running single file with enough speed to remain ahead of the field. Coming into Turn 3, however, the line came across a bump in the track over a tunnel underneath. Erik Jones running in third got loose, Bubba Wallace just behind tapped the Jones car and both were sent up the track with Jones’ car hitting the outside wall nose first.

“Just we were all pushing really hard to keep our line going,” Wallace said. “We had a plan and just didn’t execute it as well as we should. I hate it for our Leidos team. I look forward to running these places and then you just get trapped in somebody else’s mess. I hate it. It doesn’t make us look good at all.”

Behind them John Hunter Nemechek spun to avoid the two and was sent down into Denny Hamlin. Jones, Wallace, and Hamlin were done for the day. Hamlin didn’t know if he could have done something different.

“I’m not sure. I was in the back of it, so I didn’t see what got the 43 (Erik Jones) turned,” Hamlin said. “Obviously, we were trying to run a good lap time there and I thought we were really good on pace and then we just crashed. I’m really not sure honestly. I didn’t see it.”

Meanwhile, Reddick, Martin Truex Jr. and Ty Gibbs avoided the melee and were able to continue and actually ended up in the front of the field after the rest of the field pitted under the caution.

For Reddick it was a brilliant move as he would go on to win the race, Truex finished 11th, Gibbs 22nd.

Jones took his time getting from his destroyed machine but eventually did and was checked and released from the infield care center.

“I’m a little sore but I’ll be alright,” Jones said. “I don’t know – the 23 (Bubba Wallace) was pushing us there. Obviously, we were pushing and shoving and trying to make time with our strategy and I got pretty sideways getting into (turn) 3 and tried to gather it up and then ended up really hard into the wall. It’s unfortunate. I hate it for my team and my guys.

“Obviously, we wanted to have a good run but I’m alright. It’s a good thing. It was a hard hit and at the end of the day I guess if you’re going to be dumb you’ve got to be tough, so we’ll keep rolling.”



Greg Engle