Chase Elliott's Win at Talladega Punches Ticket to NASCAR Cup Round of 8

nascar cup series yellawood 500
Chase Elliott Moves to Round of 8 with Cup WinSean Gardner - Getty Images
  • It was Chase Elliott’s series-leading fifth victory this season, his 18th all-time, and his second at Talladega, where his father Bill won twice between 1976 and 2012.

  • Sunday’s was the second of the three races in the Round of 12 in the Championship Playoff Series.

  • Twelve drivers remain eligible for the Cup, but the four lowest-ranked after next weekend’s Charlotte race will be eliminated.

If you listened very carefully late Sunday afternoon you might have heard the legendary siren waiting joyously atop the historic Dawsonville Poolroom in northern Georgia.

Chase Elliott, the second-generation local hero and NASCAR’s most popular driver, had just won another Cup Series race. As local tradition has dictated for more than 40 years, that victory at Talladega Superspeedway set off the siren just as it did for his father, former champion Bill Elliott, during his two-decade Hall of Fame career.

Chase, himself a former champion, won the Yellawood 500 by moving from the inside line to the outside during a restart with three laps to go. He pulled ahead of Erik Jones, who pushed him to the front past low-line drivers Ryan Blaney and Michael McDowell. Elliott beat Blaney by 0.046 seconds, less than a car length. It was Elliott’s series-leading fifth victory this season, his 18th all-time, and his second at Talladega, where his father won twice between 1976 and 2012.

“Yeah, it was a wild last couple of laps,” Elliott said. “I wasn't super crazy about being on the bottom (for the last restart). Fortunately, I got just clear enough off Turn 2 to slide up in front of Erik. He gave me some great shoves. Obviously, a Team Chevy partner there. I had just a good enough run to get out front and stay far enough in front of Ryan to get it done.

Photo credit: Chris Graythen - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Graythen - Getty Images

“When we took the green for the last restart, I thought my opportunity to win was to be in the top lane … but it was certainly a risky move. I felt like we’d accumulated a decent number of stage points, so it made me feel better about moving up there and trying to give myself a shot to win. I didn't think I would be able to win from the bottom (inside) with that few laps left. I moved up there, Erik gave me the great shove for the lap and a half, and was far enough ahead to hold Ryan off at the line.”

The fact that Elliott trusted fellow Chevy driver Jones to help at the end was significant. “He was able to give me a really good shove, and I don’t feel like I did anything special,” Elliott said. “It was just good timing; he did a really good job and he deserves a ton of credit for that. I’m very thankful he was that committed to me for the last lap and a half.

“I have a lot of respect for Erik. I’ve raced with him long enough to trust him to not turn me around in that situation. We certainly pushed right to the limit (smiling). It was a handful, but that's kind of what you have to do in those scenarios. I thought he balanced that well.”

McDowell, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Jones, rookie Todd Gilliland, Daniel Suarez, Austin Cindric, and Chase Briscoe completed the top-10 in the 188-lap race. Chastain and Aric Almirola (36 laps each), Blaney (31), Jones (23), and Hamlin (20) led all but a few laps. Elliott led only four times for 10 laps, and none between lap 126 and the last lap, at 188. The race was surprisingly tame – just one “Big One” crash – compared to most Talladega races.

Sunday’s was the second of the three races in the Round of 12 in the Championship Playoff Series. Twelve drivers remain eligible for the Cup, but the four lowest-ranked after next weekend’s Charlotte race will be eliminated.

With Charlotte remaining in the Round of 12, Elliott leads Blaney by two points. Chastain is six behind, Hamlin trails by 13, former champions Joey Logano and Larson each trail by 16, Suarez by 22, and Chase Briscoe on the cutline, trailing by 34. Based on a tiebreak formula, Cindric is also 34 points behind Elliott. Right on the cutline.

Pending the appeal of a points penalty from Texas last month, William Byron is 10th-ranked, down by 45 points. Christopher Bell is 67 below and Alex Bowman – who missed Talladega for concussion-related issues – is 88 points behind.

Sparks Xfinity Series 300

Photo credit: Icon Sportswire - Getty Images
Photo credit: Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

AJ Allmendinger passed Sam Mayer at the checkered flag to win Saturday afternoon’s Sparks Xfinity Series 300 at Talladega Superspeedway. It was the Kaulig Racing driver’s first Talladega victory, his fourth this year (after victories at Indy, Portland, and COTA), and the 14th in 88 Xfinity starts dating to 2006.

Allmendinger and Mayer swapped the lead three times down the stretch: Allmendinger for lap 111, Mayer for 112, then Allmendinger at lap 113 by 0.012 seconds. Other than those two laps, Allmendinger led only once, at lap 59. Austin Hill led a race-high 60 laps, but finished 14th. For only the second time in Series history all 38 starters were running at the finish, all but one within four laps of the lead lap.

Landon Cassell, Ryan Sieg, Josh Berry, Parker Kligerman, Ty Gibbs, Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, and Noah Gragson completed the top-10. The next five races are at the Charlotte Roval, Las Vegas, Homestead, and Martinsville before the championship-deciding race near Phoenix on Nov. 5.

The victory assured Allmendinger of advancing into the Round of 8. He leads the standings over Gragson, Gibbs, Hill, Berry, Justin Allgaier, Mayer, Sieg, Hemric, Riley Herbst, Jones, and Jeremy Clements. With Charlotte the last race in the Round of 12, Hemric, Herbst, Jones, and Clements are below the eight-driver cut line.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevy 250

Photo credit: Sean Gardner - Getty Images
Photo credit: Sean Gardner - Getty Images

Long-time NASCAR driver Matt DiBenedetto got his first national series victory in one of the strangest ways possible: he was declared winner of Saturday afternoon’s Camping World Truck Series race without leading a single green-flag lap.

The crash-filled Chevy 250 ended with a major incident approaching the start-finish line in overtime. Officials studied video of the final lap to determine that DiBenedetto was leading when the final caution came out at lap 95. Even though Bret Holmes was leading at the line, the running order had been frozen at the caution, when DiBenedetto was leading. Any on-track changes after the caution were irrelevant.

Ben Rhodes was finally scored second, followed by Holmes, Ryan Preece, Christian Eckes, Hailie Deegan (her best finish in 44 career starts), Chase Purdy, Colby Howard, Parker Kligerman, and Tyler Ankrum. It was Di Benedetto’s first NASCAR victory in 338 total starts across the Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World series.

The race was marred by a fiery crash in the early going as Jordan Anderson’s engine blew in flames while running top five. He steered toward the inside wall and began unbuckling as flames fired up on both sides. He was climbing from the truck when it impacted the inside wall. He was taken to the infield medical center, then flown to an area hospital with second-degree burns to his neck, face, arm, hands, and knees. He was treated and released to return home on Saturday night.

Results

NASCAR Cup Series Race - 54th Annual YellaWood 500

Talladega Superspeedway

1. (16) Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 188.

2. (19) Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 188.

3. (29) Michael McDowell, Ford, 188.

4. (6) Ross Chastain (P), Chevrolet, 188.

5. (3) Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 188.

6. (12) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 188.

7. (34) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 188.

8. (14) Daniel Suarez (P), Chevrolet, 188.

9. (17) Austin Cindric # (P), Ford, 188.

10. (5) Chase Briscoe (P), Ford, 188.

11. (33) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 188.

12. (9) William Byron (P), Chevrolet, 188.

13. (20) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.

14. (4) Aric Almirola, Ford, 188.

15. (21) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 188.

16. (27) Bubba Wallace (P), Toyota, 188.

17. (1) Christopher Bell (P), Toyota, 188.

18. (2) Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 188.

19. (7) Noah Gragson(i) (P), Chevrolet, 188.

20. (26) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 188.

21. (28) Cole Custer, Ford, 188.

22. (25) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 188.

23. (30) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.

24. (18) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 188.

25. (23) Chris Buescher, Ford, 188.

26. (22) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 188.

27. (11) Joey Logano (P), Ford, 188.

28. (8) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 187.

29. (24) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 187.

30. (31) Justin Allgaier(i), Chevrolet, 186.

31. (36) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 184.

32. (37) Cody Ware, Ford, 184.

33. (35) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 182.

34. (13) Daniel Hemric(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 180.

35. (32) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Accident, 44.

36. (15) Harrison Burton #, Ford, Accident, 23.

37. (10) Ty Gibbs(i), Toyota, Accident, 23.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 153.569 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 15 Mins, 23 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.046 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 25 laps.

Lead Changes: 57 among 17 drivers.

Lap Leaders: C. Bell (P) 0;A. Almirola 1-2;R. Chastain (P) 3-5;A. Almirola 6-7;R. Chastain (P) 8-13;E. Jones 14-15;R. Chastain (P) 16;E. Jones 17-20;R. Chastain (P) 21-22;E. Jones 23-25;C. LaJoie 26;K. Busch 27-29;D. Suarez (P) 30;C. Elliott (P) 31-33;D. Suarez (P) 34;A. Almirola 35;D. Hamlin (P) 36-38;A. Almirola 39;D. Hamlin (P) 40-42;A. Almirola 43;D. Hamlin (P) 44-50;C. Custer 51-52;D. Hamlin (P) 53-55;W. Byron (P) 56;D. Hamlin (P) 57-59;R. Blaney (P) 60-61;M. Truex Jr. 62;K. Larson (P) 63-64;E. Jones 65-66;R. Blaney (P) 67-71;E. Jones 72;A. Almirola 73-76;T. Gilliland # 77;E. Jones 78;A. Almirola 79-103;T. Reddick 104-110;K. Larson (P) 111-112;T. Reddick 113-115;K. Larson (P) 116;T. Reddick 117;K. Larson (P) 118-119;C. Elliott (P) 120-122;L. Cassill(i) 123;C. Elliott (P) 124-126;E. Jones 127;C. Buescher 128;R. Chastain (P) 129-152;R. Blaney (P) 153-160;D. Hamlin (P) 161;K. Larson (P) 162;R. Blaney (P) 163-168;E. Jones 169;R. Blaney (P) 170;E. Jones 171;R. Blaney (P) 172-179;E. Jones 180-186;R. Blaney (P) 187;C. Elliott (P) 188.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Ross Chastain (P) 5 times for 36 laps; Aric Almirola 7 times for 36 laps; Ryan Blaney (P) 7 times for 31 laps; Erik Jones 10 times for 23 laps; Denny Hamlin (P) 6 times for 20 laps; Tyler Reddick 3 times for 11 laps; Chase Elliott (P) 4 times for 10 laps; Kyle Larson (P) 5 times for 8 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 3 laps; Daniel Suarez (P) 2 times for 2 laps; Cole Custer 1 time for 2 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 1 lap; Landon Cassill(i) 1 time for 1 lap; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 1 lap; William Byron (P) 1 time for 1 lap; Todd Gilliland # 1 time for 1 lap; Chris Buescher 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 12,11,9,2,22,47,18,5,48,43

Stage #2 Top Ten: 9,31,5,99,43,1,77,17,16,14

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

  1. *Chase Elliott 3,103

  2. Ryan Blaney 3,101

  3. Ross Chastain 3,097

  4. Denny Hamlin 3,090

  5. Joey Logano 3,087

  6. Kyle Larson 3,087

  7. Daniel Suarez 3,081

  8. Chase Briscoe 3,069

  9. Austin Cindric 3,069

  10. William Byron 3,058

  11. Christopher Bell 3,036

  12. Alex Bowman 3,015

*Qualified for Round of 8 that will be decided after Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 9.