That’s not to say there were no incidents during the race at Dega. There were eight caution periods in the race including the two at the end of the first two stages of the race. However, all but one of the yellow flags for incidents followed single car accidents. The last caution of the race sent the race into NASCAR’s overtime of a green-white-checkered finish and was a multiple car accident. That accident was still tame by Talladega standards involving only five cars.
Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) dominated the day with their four cars qualifying first through fourth for the start of the race. The four drivers worked together to line-up nose-to-tail with the start and most every re-start after that and spend the majority of the race running in first through fourth positions. SHR claimed the win in the first stage of the race with Kurt Busch out front and the second stage with Kevin Harvick in the lead position. Kurt (108 laps) and Kevin (46 laps) were the drivers with the most laps led in the race and combined to lead over 80% of the scheduled 188 laps with their teammates Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola right behind them.
I would like to make a personal statement about the SHR domination in the race. It was impressive that the organization was able to field four cars that were so fast. Even more impressive was that all four drivers could work together so well all race long. However, as a fan it made for a fairly mundane race to watch. Four cars lining up and racing nose-to-tail for so many laps out front forced the rest of the drivers to pretty much follow suit. Hopefully the recently announced new guidelines and rules for 2019 will create more exciting racing for the fans to enjoy next year at this track and other super speedways. Again, that is just my personal opinion.
Back to the events of the race. Following that final caution period it was not a certainty that all the cars on the track would be able to make it to the end of the green-white-checkered NASCAR overtime. When the race was re-started Kurt Busch and SHR teammate Arik Almirola were able to race out to the front. It appeared that Kurt was going to claim the win after leading the most laps in the race until he ran out of gas on the last lap.
Arik Almirola was able to race to the lead and had enough gas to cross the finish line first to claim his first win of the 2018 season, his first win at Talladega Superspeedway in NASCAR’s top division, his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career win and earn the automatic advance to the next round of the NASCAR Playoffs.
Arik’s SHR teammate Clint Bowyer was able to grab the second place finish with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. coming across the line in third place. Denny Hamlin finish fourth with Joey Logano scoring the fifth place finish. See the complete race results for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway here.
Arik Almirola and Chase Elliott have locked themselves into the Round of Eight by winning races in the Round of Twelve. The remaining 10 drivers that are still contenders for the championship will face the second elimination race of the 2018 NASCAR post-season next to advance. Some driver will just need a good race, some will need a great race and others may be in a “must win” scenario to advance.
The four drivers that will have their championship hopes end will be revealed Sunday, October 21st following the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
By: Buck Stevens