Cup Series Talladega Race Review

    Denny Hamlin wins a wild one in Talladega. In one of the most controversial finishes in NASCAR history, the double yellow line played a major impact in the finish of another Talladega race. 

The entire race was sloppy in the best way possible, as the race set a new track record of 13 cautions, and only two playoff drivers finished in the top 10.

    Stage 1 featured one of the messiest starts to a race I have ever seen. NASCAR had planned for a competition caution on lap 25, but NASCAR had three cautions before the competition caution.  The early race wrecks lead playoff favorites Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick to ride around in the back waiting. A late stage incident involving Alex Bowman and Aric Almirola gifted Chris Buescher the stage win. 

    Stage 2 featured a scary wreck where Kurt Busch went airnorn, riding on the hood of Cole Custer's car. This brought out a short red flag to repair the track's wall. The second stage featured a lot of back and forth racing, but surprisingly Martin Truex Jr. ended up squeaking out a stage 2 win. This was surprisingly a calm stage for the day, and it arguably featured the best racing of the day excluding the finish. 

    Stage 3. -  What can I say? It was PEAK Talladega. We watch Talladega for the wild, crazy, unpredictable races and it delivered just that. The final stage featured a big one with playoff drivers Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Kyle Busch.Towards the end it almost looked like a few different underdogs could've won, but through a controversial finish, Denny Hamlin emerged victorious.
     In an attempt to avoid a potential wreck, Hamlin avoided Chris Buescher and Erik Jones by driving to the bottom of the track. At the same time Matt DiBenedetto pushed William Byron below the double yellow line, and somehow Denny made it through unscathed. It was his 44th career win, tying Hall of Famer Bill Elliott.

    The top 10 featured several underdogs including Ty Dillon in third, John Hunter Nemechek in eighth, Brennan Poole in ninth, and Ryan Preece in tenth. The wreckfest and wonky finishing order made the Roval virtually a must win for Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola, and Clint Bowyer. These drivers are outside of the playoff advancement line as we enter the elimination race next week.