Last Sunday, a good crowd was hoping for some excitement as the NASCAR Cup Series raced at Talladega. It took a while for some excitement to occur as most cars went around the track in single file for the first stage, which was won by Brad Keselowski. Fords were the dominant cars, leading 126 of 188 laps. Racing picked up during Stage 2 as the first of two major incidents occurred on lap 71, involving six cars. Trevor Bayne, Eric Jones and Kyle Larson were put out of the race. Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr. were able to continue. Stage 2 was won by Paul Menard.
The Team Penske Fords of Joey Logano and Keselowski dominated most of the second half of the race when on lap 166, "the big one" happened in turn 3. Fourteen cars were involved with seven of them unable to continue. Kevin Harvick started the race from the pole and led the early laps. Sixteen different drivers took turns leading the race with Logano being in the lead when the lap-166 incident took place. When the race resumed, Logano led the rest of the way, notching his first victory in 2018. This ended a 36-race winless streak, dating back to the spring Richmond race in 2017, only to have that race “encumbered.”
This was Logano’s fourth career restrictor-plate win and his third in the last six races at Talladega.
You have to be in contention at the end of a race in order to win, but it seemed that most of the drivers were taking this strategy too far. There were not enough attempts at winning, as drivers seemed content to follow one another. This may be the result of aerodynamics. Chase Elliott seemed to sum it up best during a post-race interview.
“I got to the end (of the race), and those guys around me were working together so much,” Elliott said. “I thought for sure one of them wanted to win a little worse than what they did. They were being very patient with one another, and I was surprised by that.
“If it was me, I feel like I would have wanted to try, or do something. Those guys weren’t having it. I was trying to move forward, and make a lane, and push, and they were not interested in advancing.”
Drivers did not seem to want to risk their advantageous spots in the draft. Therefore, it is easy to understand Elliott’s frustration about drivers who seemingly did not want to win.
Sundays race is in Dover, Del., at the “Monster Mile.”