Thursday May 23rd, 2024 2:01AM

Reddick steals win at Talladega as McDowell crashes at the line

By Paul Newberry AP Sports Writer

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Tyler Reddick stole a NASCAR Cup victory at Talladega Superspeedway when front-runner Michael McDowell, swerving up and down the track trying to block Brad Keselowski, wound up crashing with the finish line in sight Sunday.

It was another wild Talladega finish — and set off a raucous celebration on pit road with one of Reddick's team owners, Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

"This is like an NBA playoff game," Jordan said in Victory Lane. "I'm so ecstatic."
McDowell, the pole-sitter, dominated the closing laps and was in position to give Ford its much-needed first victory of the year. But his topsy-turvy efforts to block Keselowski — another Ford driver — wound up costing them both.

McDowell spun out, Keselowski had to check up, and Reddick sped by to claim his sixth career Cup victory in 0.208 seconds.

A pile of cars behind them was taken out, as well. Corey LaJoie's No. 7 machine slid across the finish line on its side, pinned against the wall in front the massive grandstands.

Reddick climbed out of his No. 45 car and scurried up the fence like Spider-Man.

"That was crazy, fans," he screamed. "Chaos. Typical Talladega."

Keselowski settled for the runner-up spot, failing again to pick up his first win since 2021 at this 2.66-mile trioval in east Alabama.

"We went to make a move, and Michael covered it," Keselowski said. "We went the other way and had nowhere to go when Michael came back down. It's just the way this stuff goes."
Reddick's victory redeemed a botched strategy that knocked out a bunch of Toyota contenders, including his team co-owner, Denny Hamlin.

All three Toyota teams pitted in tandem with 37 laps to go, going with a strategy that would've allowed them to push the pace on the rest of the fuel-saving field — with an idea of drafting all the way to the front for the checkered flag.

Unfortunately, they couldn't keep their cars straight.

Just four laps later, with the Toyota train running at a blistering, single-file pace and chasing down the lead pack, John Hunter Nemechek appeared to get into the bumper of Bubba Wallace's No. 23 machine, which clipped Erik Jones and sent him smashing hard into the outside wall.

Nemechek then slid down the track and took out Hamlin.

"We had a plan," Wallace said. "We just didn't execute it as well as we should have. I hate it. It doesn't make us look good at all."

Jones took the brunt of the blow, a crash that would've been much worse without the sturdy cars and foamy barriers.

"I'm a little sore, but I'm all right," Jones said after exiting the infield care center. "If you're gonna be dumb, you've got to be tough."

Reddick was at the front of the pack and avoided the crash.

In the end, he was able to celebrate an improbable win.

CLEAN RACING

Unlike the wacky finish, the first two stages were caution-free — the first time that's happened at Talladega since the stage system was instituted in 2017. Many drivers were focused on saving fuel and there weren't many bold moves.

Finally, on lap 132, with the cars three-wide and tightly bunched in the middle of a huge train, the first occurred.

Justin Haley got a bump from behind and went spinning into Christopher Bell, whose car sustained heavy damage that left him with a last-place finish.

IMPRESSIVE KIWI

Shane Van Gisbergen turned in a strong run in the first oval race of his burgeoning NASCAR Cup career.

The stunning winner of the Chicago street race in his Cup debut last summer, Van Gisbergen showed the depth of his talent by leading laps and staying out of trouble at the harrowing 2.66-mile trioval until the very end.

Unfortunately for the 34-year-old from New Zealand, he got caught up in the final melee and didn't make it across the line. He finished 27th.
STARTING AT THE BACK

Season points leader Kyle Larson started the race with a huge disadvantage after his team was penalized for altering the roof rails on his No. 5 car on the way to the qualifying line Saturday.

Larson, who had won three straight poles, was barred from qualifying, forced to start from the back of the field, and ordered to do a drive-through penalty on the opening lap. He was at least a half-lap behind the field by the time he got up to speed and, without anyone to draft with, was caught by the leaders on the 12th lap.

NASCAR also ejected Larson's car chief, Jesse Saunders, from the speedway.

Larson was able to work his way back into the mix, but he wasn't a contender in the end. He finished 20th.

UP NEXT

The Cup series heads next Sunday to Dover Motor Speedway, where Martin Truex Jr. won the race a year ago.

NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 Results
At Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega, Ala.
Lap length: 2.66 miles
(Start position in parentheses)

1. (18) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 188 laps, 47 points.
2. (22) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 188, 38.
3. (36) Noah Gragson, Ford, 188, 34.
4. (33) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Chevrolet, 188, 33.
5. (12) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 188, 33.
6. (24) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 188, 0.
7. (13) William Byron, Chevrolet, 188, 38.
8. (3) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 188, 29.
9. (19) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 188, 28.
10. (16) Harrison Burton, Ford, 188, 32.
11. (6) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 188, 26.
12. (26) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 188, 25.
13. (32) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 188, 30.
14. (11) Ryan Preece, Ford, 188, 25.
15. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 188, 34.
16. (29) Josh Berry, Ford, 188, 21.
17. (35) Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, 188, 20.
18. (31) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 188, 19.
19. (7) Joey Logano, Ford, 188, 28.
20. (21) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 188, 24.
21. (38) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 188, 24.
22. (15) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 188, 16.
23. (2) Austin Cindric, Ford, 188, 33.
24. (34) Cody Ware, Ford, 188, 13.
25. (8) Chris Buescher, Ford, 188, 16.
26. (4) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 188, 17.
27. (25) Daniel Suárez, Chevrolet, 188, 10.
28. (17) Shane Van Gisbergen, Chevrolet, 188, 0.
29. (30) Zane Smith, Chevrolet, 188, 8.
30. (5) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 188, 14.
31. (1) Michael McDowell, Ford, accident, 187, 6.
32. (37) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 187, 0.
33. (20) John H. Nemechek, Toyota, 184, 4.
34. (27) Justin Haley, Ford, 184, 3.
35. (28) Erik Jones, Toyota, accident, 154, 2.
36. (14) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, accident, 154, 1.
37. (23) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, accident, 154, 1.
38. (10) Christopher Bell, Toyota, accident, 132, 5.
___
Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 155.08 mph.
Time of Race: 3 hours, 13 minutes, 29 seconds.
Margin of Victory: 0.208 seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 21 laps.
Lead Changes: 73 among 23 drivers.
Lap Leaders: M.McDowell 0-1; A.Cindric 2; M.McDowell 3-4; A.Cindric 5; M.Truex 6; D.Hemric 7-9; B.McLeod 10; D.Hemric 11-14; C.Briscoe 15-16; J.Haley 17-18; M.Truex 19-21; J.Haley 22-23; M.Truex 24-31; B.McLeod 32-33; M.Truex 34-35; B.McLeod 36; M.Truex 37-38; B.McLeod 39; C.Briscoe 40; N.Gragson 41; C.Elliott 42-43; S.Van Gisbergen 44; B.Keselowski 45; C.Elliott 46-47; A.Cindric 48-51; C.Elliott 52; A.Cindric 53-62; B.Keselowski 63; K.Busch 64-66; R.Blaney 67; K.Busch 68; S.Van Gisbergen 69; A.Alfredo 70; N.Gragson 71; J.Nemechek 72-78; N.Gragson 79; J.Nemechek 80; A.Alfredo 81; J.Nemechek 82-93; D.Hamlin 94; C.Buescher 95; N.Gragson 96; C.Buescher 97; S.Van Gisbergen 98; C.Buescher 99-101; J.Logano 102-105; D.Hamlin 106; J.Logano 107-108; D.Hamlin 109-110; J.Logano 111-113; C.Buescher 114; J.Logano 115-122; T.Gibbs 123; J.Logano 124-126; R.Chastain 127-128; J.Logano 129-130; R.Chastain 131; N.Gragson 132; R.Chastain 133-135; A.Alfredo 136-137; J.Berry 138-140; D.Hemric 141; M.McDowell 142-157; C.Hocevar 158; T.Reddick 159-162; M.McDowell 163-170; T.Reddick 171; M.McDowell 172-174; T.Reddick 175; M.McDowell 176-177; T.Reddick 178; M.McDowell 179-182; T.Reddick 183-188; K.Busch 189
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): M.McDowell, 7 times for 36 laps; J.Logano, 6 times for 22 laps; J.Nemechek, 3 times for 20 laps; M.Truex, 5 times for 16 laps; A.Cindric, 4 times for 16 laps; T.Reddick, 5 times for 13 laps; D.Hemric, 3 times for 8 laps; R.Chastain, 3 times for 6 laps; C.Buescher, 4 times for 6 laps; N.Gragson, 5 times for 5 laps; C.Elliott, 3 times for 5 laps; K.Busch, 3 times for 5 laps; B.McLeod, 4 times for 5 laps; A.Alfredo, 3 times for 4 laps; J.Haley, 2 times for 4 laps; D.Hamlin, 3 times for 4 laps; C.Briscoe, 2 times for 3 laps; J.Berry, 1 time for 3 laps; S.Van Gisbergen, 3 times for 3 laps; B.Keselowski, 2 times for 2 laps; C.Hocevar, 1 time for 1 lap; R.Blaney, 1 time for 1 lap; T.Gibbs, 1 time for 1 lap.
Wins: W.Byron, 3; D.Hamlin, 2; K.Larson, 1; C.Elliott, 1; C.Bell, 1; D.Suárez, 1.
Top 16 in Points: 1. K.Larson, 335; 2. M.Truex, 318; 3. D.Hamlin, 307; 4. C.Elliott, 303; 5. W.Byron, 297; 6. T.Gibbs, 280; 7. R.Blaney, 278; 8. T.Reddick, 269; 9. B.Wallace, 256; 10. C.Bell, 250; 11. R.Chastain, 247; 12. C.Briscoe, 231; 13. C.Buescher, 229; 14. A.Bowman, 228; 15. J.Logano, 217; 16. K.Busch, 217.
___
NASCAR Driver Rating Formula

A maximum of 150 points can be attained in a race.
The formula combines the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish.

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  • Associated Tags: NASCAR , NASCAR Cup Series, Talladega
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