The YellaWood 500 was rained out Sunday (10/03) at Talladega Superspeedway. It was rain shortened on Monday (10/04). However, there was plenty of drama that unfolded in that shorter race.
When the green flag waived the race was set to run for 188 laps (500 miles). That might be why things looked somewhat calm at first. The drivers were racing for spots, but not getting too aggressive or crazy at first.
As the race wore on and rain moved into the area, the intensity increased with the likelihood of a weather shortened race. The race had 19 drivers exchange the lead 35 times.
The track that is called a “wild card” on the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff circuit lived up to that name Monday. While there were only five caution periods during the race, they involved many of the Playoff drivers. The result is that the elimination race this weekend will have many drivers fighting for spots in the next round.
The wreck and rain that had the most effect on the race was with five laps remaining in stage two of the race. While the cars circled the track under caution the skies opened up and rain began soaking the track. NASCAR brought the cars down pit road on lap 118 and displayed the red flag.
Just prior to the caution and red flag that followed, Bubba Wallace was able to race to the lead. The race had made it past the half-way point prior to that as well. Officials sent the track drying equipment out on the track when the rain stopped. However, when it began again it was obvious they would not be able to restart the race on Monday. By NASCAR rule the race was called and Bubba Wallace was declared the winner.
This is the first NASCAR Cup Series win for Bubba Wallace. It is the first win for the new race team 23XI co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. It is the second time in NASCAR’s history that an African-American has won NASCAR’s top division.
Brad Keselowski was scored with the second place finish followed by Joey Logano in third place. Kurt Busch was awarded fourth place with Christopher Bell getting fifth place in the race. See the complete race results in the YellaWood 500 race here.
Denny Hamlin remains the only driver who has a guaranteed spot in the Round of Eight. He remains at the top of the Playoff Standings as a result of his win in the first race on this round. Kyle Larson remains in the second spot, but his advantage over the cut line has fallen to a mere 22 points. Joey Logano sits just 21 points above the cut line. Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. are both just 20 points above the cut line. See the complete NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings here.
The pressure will increase on the 11 drivers who have not clinched their spots in the next round. This weekend’s race is the elimination race for the Round of 12. The four drivers with the least amount of points will no longer be championship contenders following the race. It is another race that is a “wild card.”
This Sunday, October 10th will be the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.
By: Buck Stevens