Melon Man Does it Again: Ross Chastain Picks Up Second Career Win at Talladega

The NASCAR Cup Series returned to Talladega Superspeedway, this time for the first time in the new Next Gen car. Christopher Bell collected the second pole award of his young career, and was joined on the front row by JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. They were followed by Daniel Hemric & Daniel Suarez in row two, and Kyle Larson & Kyle Busch on row three.

All cars that entered the race made the field – a few notable part-timers in the race were Daniel Hemric, Greg Biffle, Landon Cassill, and Noah Gragson, who won the Xfinity Series race just the day before.

In the end, it was Ross Chastain that ultimately came out on top. It was chaos coming to the line as Erik Jones just missed out on collecting the 200th win in NASCAR for the 43 car, as he was leading the field out of turn four on the final lap before getting split be several cars. Bubba Wallace missed out on the chance to repeat as the winner at Talladega, despite running towards the front for most of the race, as a poor final pit stop mired him back in traffic late.

Chastain picking up the win makes him only the second repeat winner on the year, joining William Byron in that regard. Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney held strong in first and second in points respectively, with William Byron climbing to third, Kyle Busch jumping to fourth, and Alex Bowman holding on to fifth.

As it happened:

The first stage was marked by fairly hectic two and three-wide racing at times as Daniel Suarez led the early laps. The action up front prompted a few of the likely-contenders to intentionally fall to the back – Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Bubba Wallace, Austin Cindric, and some others made the move.

Green flag pit stops during the stage saw Brad Keselowski and Ross Chastain get nabbed for speeding on pit road. They also saw Cody Ware spin while entering the pits, though he managed to avoid contact and got the car spun back around, avoiding a caution. Following the pit cycle, Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kyle Larson, William Byron, and Chase Elliott sorted out to the top three spots.

The first incident caution of the day took place with only three laps to go in the stage when Daniel Hemric suffered an engine failure while in the pack, got run into by Austin Dillon, then spun back up the track right in front of Chase Briscoe who made heavy contact with the Kaulig #16. Chris Buescher also got caught up in the incident, suffering heavy damage. The caution caused the first stage to end under yellow, with Bubba Wallace in the lead.

Stage 1 results:

1) Bubba Wallace
2) Kyle Larson
3) Christopher Bell
4) William Byron
5) Martin Truex Jr.
6) Chase Elliott
7) Kurt Busch
8) Erik Jones
9) Alex Bowman
10) Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

In the second stage Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace, and Kyle Larson alternated for the lead until a caution came out halfway through the stage when Greg Biffle had an issue. Almost as soon as the green flag came back out, BJ McLeod lost a wheel and spun, which prompted another caution.

Then, as soon as the green flag came out again, the big one struck. While still going up through the gears, Joey Logano got turned into the outside wall by Bubba Wallace after the outside line got held up. After that initial contact with the wall, Logano slid back down the track in front of the back half of the field and collected several other cars.

Among those drivers involved were Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland, Cole Custer, Ty Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Daniel Suarez.

Following a solo-spin caution by Cody Ware, the field made it to the stage break without further incident.

Stage 2 results:

1) William Byron
2) Chase Elliott
3) Kyle Larson
4) Martin Truex Jr.
5) Kyle Busch
6) Alex Bowman
7) Aric Almirola
8) Erik Jones
9) Ross Chastain
10) Kurt Busch

The final stage Saw the entire field sort out to running single file within the first 15 laps, with Ryan Blaney leading Bubba Wallace and the rest of a 24-car train. With about 40 to go the action picked back up with the field running two wide again.

Green flag pit stops took place with about 30 laps to go. Race leader Bubba Wallace’s crew had yet another poor stop, losing 10 spots putting him back to 11th place. At the exit of pit road in the final group of cars that pitted, Kyle Busch got into his teammate Christopher Bell, turning him into the inside wall – though the incident did not yield a caution. Once pit stops had been completed, the field sorted back out to running single file.

With about 15 to go, the action picked back up with several cars jumping out of line to run side by side. With 5 to go, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson were battling side by side for the lead. With three to go, Kurt Busch got loose and mixed up the whole field, allowing Erik Jones to jump to the lead.

On the final lap, with Erik Jones in the lead, chaos broke out as the field exited turn 4. Several cars behind the leaders, including William Byron, Bubba Wallace, and Kurt Busch all wrecked while jostling for position – meanwhile, ahead of them race leader Erik Jones got split by Kyle Larson to the outside and Ross Chastain & Austin Dillon to the inside, with Ross Chastain edging out Dillon at the line to pick up his second career win.

Final Results:

1) Ross Chastain
2) Austin Dillon
3) Kyle Busch
4) Kyle Larson
5) Martin Truex Jr.
6) Erik Jones
7) Chase Elliott
8) Michael McDowell
9) Alex Bowman
10) Kevin Harvick
11) Ryan Blaney
12) Justin Haley
13) Aric Almirola
14) Corey LaJoie
15) William Byron
16) Kurt Busch
17) Bubba Wallace
18) Denny Hamlin
19) Landon Cassill
20) Noah Gragson
21) Austin Cindric
22) Christopher Bell
23) Brad Keselowski
24) David Ragan
25) J.J. Yeley
26) B.J. McLeod
27) Todd Gilliland
28) Cody Ware
29) Cole Custer
30) Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
31) Daniel Suarez
32) Joey Logano
33) Ty Dillon
34) Harrison Burton
35) Greg Biffle
36) Daniel Hemric
37) Chase Briscoe
38) Chris Buescher
39) Tyler Reddick

Published by Walker Skeeter

Walker is a 4th year climatology PhD candidate at the University of Delaware. Despite being a climate scientist, Walker has been a NASCAR fan for over 20 years! His favorite drivers are Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, and Alex Bowman in cup, and AJ Allmendinger, Tommy Joe Martins, and Ryan Vargas in Xfinity. Outside of racing, he enjoys talking about (and studying) the weather, watching Baltimore sports, and playing video games.

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