The NASCAR Playoffs stopped at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday (10/1) for the second race in the Round of 12. The Big One did not happen until the last few hundred yards in the YellaWood 500.
Racing at Talladega is always a wild card. The Cup Series cars run at speeds of around 200 mph just inches apart. One mistake can have catastrophic results for many cars. This is what they call “The Big One.” It is a wreck that often collects 10 cars and more.
Most of the race Sunday was without incident. Stage one had a yellow flag that actually ended the stage and covered a four-car incident on the track. Ryan Blaney was the winner of the stage.
Stage two was completed without incident. Brad Keselowski was the winner of this stage.
There was an eight-car incident in stage three that forced NASCAR to red flag the race to fix the safer barrier on the outer wall. Most would not call this “The Big One” since the number of cars involved was not in double digits.
The race did have plenty of racing action as 24 drivers exchanged the lead 69 times. Joey Logano led a race-high 48 laps. However, as the race wound down it was Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney that would battle for the win.
With just five laps to go Kevin and Ryan were side-by-side with cars lined up behind them. Kevin was able to claim the lead in the inside row for laps 184 through 186. Ryan claimed the lead on the outside for lap 187. During the final lap Kevin got out in front and moved up to block Ryan.
Ryan had a big run on the backstretch and was able to drop down to the inside of Kevin and pull even with him. Ryan then pulled out to the lead. Kevin was able to pull back even with Ryan through turns three and four to race side-by-side through the tri-oval heading to the finish line. Ryan was able to beat Kevin by mere feet at the finish line as multiple cars were wrecking behind them. Since the checkered flag was waiving, there was no caution flag issued and thus no official count on cars involved. However, it appears to me to have been “The Big One.”
Ryan Blaney captured his third career Cup Series win at Talladega Superspeedway. It was his second win of the 2023 season and first win in the 2023 Playoffs. He now joins William Byron with an automatic advance to the Round of 8 with a win.
Kevin Harvick finished in second place. However, his car failed post-race inspection and was disqualified moving him to last place in the finishing order. That moved William Byron up to a second-place finish and Denny Hamlin up to third. See the complete race results for the YellaWood 500 here.
William Byron remains the leader in the point standings following Talladega. Ryan Blaney moves up to second and Denny Hamlin slips back to third. See the complete NASCAR Cup Series point standings here.
The NASCAR Playoff drivers now face elimination in the third and final race of the Round of 12. That race happens Sunday, October 8th. It is a race that all ten of the drivers that have not secured their spot in the next round will have to worry about all week. It is the Back of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.
By: Buck Stevens