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NASCAR Cup: Ross Chastain wins in last-lap melee at Talladega


Ross Chastain led only one lap of the 188-lap Geico 500 on Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, but that lap was the last one. After claiming his first-career NASCAR Cup Series win and a first win for Trackhouse Racing earlier in the season at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, he became the second repeat winner in the first 10 races of the 2022 season with his latest win.

“Holy cow,” Chastain said. “I’m always the one going to the top too early, making the mistake. There at the end, it was like eight to go. I was like, ‘I’m not going up there again.’ I did that a couple times today. I was like, I’ll just ride on the bottom. If it works, I’m not going to lose the race for us, I’ll just let them.”

Kyle Larson and Erik Jones battled back-and-forth for the lead in the final 10 laps. After Jones took the lead with three laps to go, Larson made a move on the final lap to get around him.

Instead, Larson made contact with Kurt Busch, sending Busch into the wall. Several drivers were collected in the last-lap crash, including Busch’s 23XI Racing teammate Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.

“I feel like I did a pretty near perfect job for me at a superspeedway until the last lap, there,” Larson said. “Yeah, I should have, like, I think just kind of faked going high, then, went back low. I had that run. Ross helped me with that run. It kind of baited me into going to the outside. Just a little inexperience probably, there.”

Austin Dillon finished second, Kyle Busch was third, Larson fourth, and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top-five. 

“We came from eighth there on that last lap, just kind of rode the bottom and got people baited off the top,” Dillon said. “We had a good push there at the end. I think I was actually the one to push the one to the win. I gave him a good shove off of four and he kind of just drove away.”

After taking the white flag as the race leader, Jones finished sixth.

“I mean, just the last lap, right? It’s typical here,” Jones said. “Been close here so many times, in this race and the fall race. U.S. Air Force Chevy had good speed, felt good to be up front. Coming, there, that last lap, we were single file. I felt pretty good about it. They kind of doubled up behind us. That top lane was getting some momentum. Looking back, I wish I would have stayed at the bottom and let the 1 (Chastain) push me. I didn’t realize they were coming with that much speed. But try to defend on the 5 (Larson), you’re too far ahead already, right here. Obviously, a defense on the 5 kind of gives the door to the 1.”

Jones also led early in the 68-lap final stage after taking fuel only during the sixth and final caution that came out after the conclusion of stage two.
Ryan Blaney led several laps in the final stage, taking the lead on lap 129 after being among several drivers who took only two tires during the final caution.

Wallace also led laps before a final cycle of green-flag pit stops with about 30 laps remaining. Denny Hamlin was the leader after the cycle completed, but he lost that lead to Larson with 18 laps to go.

Wallace won the opening stage at lap 60. He challenged Larson for the lead late in the stage and was the leader when Daniel Hemric suffered an engine issue and Chase Briscoe was collected in the incident on lap 57. The stage ended under the resulting caution, the first yellow flag of the race.

After Daniel Suarez took the lead from pole sitter Christopher Bell on lap 10, Suarez ran up front until a cycle of green-flag pit stops began on lap 34. Larson was up front after the cycle completed.

Larson was back in the lead after pit stops between the two 60-lap stages. One of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, William Byron, won stage two at lap 120 with all four HMS drivers, also including Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman, in the top-five at the end of the stage.
Jones took the lead from Larson early in stage two before Byron took the lead by getting off pit road first during a caution for a stalled Greg Biffle on lap 82.

The yellow flag waved three additional times in the second stage, including a caution for an eight-car wreck on lap 90 that began with Joey Logano hitting the wall. Previous race leader Suarez was among the drivers involved, along with one of Logano’s Team Penske teammates, Austin Cindric.

“I felt like we were being patient, just trying to wait for the right time to try and get aggressive and get in the right position,” Suarez said. “I don’t even know what happened. I just saw the No. 22 (Logano) sideways, wrecking in the top lane. Unfortunately, we were just in a bad position.”

Elliott finished seventh, Michael McDowell eighth, Bowman ninth, and Kevin Harvick finished 10th.

Below, is the finishing order of the Geico 500:

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Posted by on April 24, 2022. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.