Brad Keselowski led only one lap on Sunday afternoon at Talladega, but it was the 191th lap, which secured him the first victory of the 2021 campaign.
It was Sunday, which meant it was time for the NASCAR Cup Series race, which took place at Talladega Superspeedway.
The starting grid was shaken up ahead of the race start after numerous Toyotas were sent to the back of the grid due to unapproved adjustments. Kyle Larson’s day started in a bad way – the temperatures were quite high in his car. He spent some time on the pit road, came back to the track, but returned again after his no.5 car went smoking.
The first incident of the race was Joey Gase’s blown tire – the caution was out. We got to see 10 different drivers in the lead of stage 1 and it was Matt DiBenedetto, who was ahead at its end. However, the opening stage ended a bit earlier after a big wreck, involving Joey Logano, who had had a flip. He was not fine after the accident.
Chase Elliott started the stage 2 in the lead, but was eventually passed by Denny Hamlin. The cars were in a close pack and then the green-flag pit stop cycle unfolded. We saw a lot of pit penalties, including the race leader Denny Hamlin speeding at the pit entry. Ryan Preece took over the lead after the cycle was completed.
Kurt Busch’s car was caught up in flames and the caution was deployed after the fluid was leaked on the race track from the no. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing car. The stage ended with a big wreck again, this time involving Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports drivers at the frontstretch. Bubba Wallace won his first stage in the Cup Series.
Ryan Blaney won the battle off the pit road, so he had led the field to the start of the final stage. The driver had a long single-file stretch, though the pack was later split into two lanes. The race lead kept changing back-and-forth. Fuel became a big concern as the nearly everyone was on the limit. Quin Houff’s incident at the backstretch forced another caution.
It all came down to the final 12-lap stint. Matt DiBenedetto took the lead from Erik Jones, who had been in the lead before the caution. Just laps before the finish another caution appeared due to debris from Martin Truex Jr.’s blow tire, so we had an overtime.
Matt DiBenedetto got a good push from Brad Keselowski at the restart. However, it was the no.2 Team Penske car driver, who capitalized at the final lap and won the race with numerous cars wrecking behind him. William Byron finished second, while Michael McDowell completed the top 3 of the race.
The top 10 of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega:
|1||#2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske|
|2||#24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports|
|3||#34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports|
|4||#4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|5||#21||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing|
|6||#16||Kaz Grala||Kaulig Racing|
|7||#8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing|
|8||#3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing|
|9||#12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske|
|10||#41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing|