NASCAR’s Talladega Superspeedway delivered on it’s famed ‘Big One’ Sunday. In fact it actually delivered several times.
It started early when Bubba Wallace crashed while running third on lap 12 taking out Kevin Harvick. Another crash late in the race, on lap 182 of 188 involved a total of five cars including Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto and Justin Haley who went airborne. The crash brought out a red flag for nearly 9 minutes and saw the day end for Buescher and DiBenedetto who were running among the top 5 and for Haley who was making his Cup debut.
“I’m about tired of superspeedway racing for the year,” a frustrated DiBenedetto said. “Daytona – good car, good run, crashed. Here – I was actually fighting really tight there at the end. Just was struggling to maintain, but once we got up to second cars kept getting underneath me off the corner. But I don’t know what happened. I saw (Chris) Buescher got turned and we absolutely clobbered him. I had nowhere to go, nothing to do – just speedway racing. I’m sure I’d love it if it was going the opposite direction, but it seems like we crash in every one of these things.”
The last lap was typical wild Talladega as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was sent into the wall at the start-finish line just after Elliott had taken the white flag. The Ford of Stenhouse slid below the field and NASCAR kept the green waving for the final lap. But a multicar crash erupted when David Ragan sent William Byron into the outside wall exiting turn 2; Byron got into Kyle Larson who then swept up Jeffrey Earnhardt. Both cars were sent nose first into the inside wall but not before the car of Larson became airborne and began to flip. This time NASCAR immediately threw the caution, freezing the field and giving the win to Elliott. All drivers involved in the crash were able to get out under their own power.
“Initially, I thought I was going to hit the inside wall pretty hard,” Larson said. “And then right before I got to it, I felt it lift and was just hoping it would set down; and then it just started tumbling. That was probably the longest flip I’ve ever had…I didn’t know if it would ever stop. I knew I was flipping and was just hoping that I wasn’t going to get any closer to the catch fence, so it was a little bit scary, but thankfully I’m all right.”