Monday, we saw Talladega Superspeedway acting like it’s good old superspeedway self.
There was a total of 9 caution flags in the rain-delayed race three of which were classified as the infamous Talladega “Big One”; multicar crashes that normally occur. Usually only once, however.
The first caution came at lap 108 when Alex Bowman, who was fighting for the lead in a three-wide battle, was pushed by Joey Logano who was running up on the back of him entering turn 3. Bowman was sent spinning up and into the wall sweeping up a total of 10 cars including Playoff driver Kyle Larson. Bowman and Larson were done for the day at that point. Playoff driver Chase Elliott had heavy damage but was able to continue.
“I threw a block I shouldn’t have thrown a block,” Bowman said. “I got shoved way out there. I knew the No. 22 (Joey Logano) was coming and I just tried to move down just a little bit. As soon as he touched me, it just turned it sideways. They just had a bigger run than I realized. I should have let them go and shouldn’t have thrown a block. I apologize to all the cars that got torn up, that’s on me. Talladega happens. I hate it for all of our sponsors.”
The second multicar accident happened on lap 164 when Kurt Busch got into the back of William Byron both of whom are Playoff drivers, again entering turn 3, and spinning Byron out and sweeping up 9 cars. Byron who had won Stage 1 on Sunday just as the rains came and the race was delayed, was done for the day.
“Obviously, our noses are pointed and it just jacked me right up and turned me around,” Byron said. “I have to look at it. Yeah, it just turned me to the inside first. I don’t know what to do different there to get the push better. Just unfortunate for us. We had a really good run going. I felt like we were going to at least finish pretty solid. Our car was good, just trying to bide our time. Just unfortunate, for sure.”
The final multicar accident came with just 6 laps to go when Kurt Busch spun out his brother Kyle entering turn 3 again. Kyle spun up the track and took out Brad Keselowski while ahead Brendan Gaughan was sent airborne in the front of the pack. In total 11 cars were involved, and NASCAR was forced to throw the red flag.
“Listen, I spent three years in off-road racing and we flip flop,” Gaughan said with a smile. “The easiest thing you can do is go upside down, because nothing hits hard. So that’s the nicest thing about it. I haven’t even seen it, but Brad (Keselowski) was pushing the crap out of me and I loved it. But man, the Beard Oil Distributing Chevy, we ran a great strategy. Darren Shaw, Ron Lewis our spotter, everybody….it was awesome. The 62 was in front for a split second. I was just so proud and thank you to ECR, Richard Childress, Chevrolet and to Darren and Ron and all the guys on this team. The Beard family, I love them. Mother, it’s okay, it’s just a flip and it didn’t hurt, I promise.”
None of the drivers were injured, including Gaughan.
“Yeah, no, it’s okay because you are still going 200 mph that way,” he said. “So, it never just drops out of the sky. It was okay, it was just one easy, quick flip and we put it down. The only thing you worry about then is somebody hitting you. That is what you don’t want and that is where the fear comes in.”
He pointed to his head: “Other than that, I am fine and like I said, some people would argue that I don’t have anything up there that’s going to hurt. “