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NASCAR Cup Series: Reddick sneaks through carnage to win at Talladega

Written by Sean McKean

Credit - Mike Stewart / AP Photo

Through the chaos in the tri-oval on the last lap, it was 23XI's Tyler Reddick that snuck through to win at Talladega. It is Reddick's sixth career win and his first at Talladega.

At the start, the field stayed two-by-two, led by polesitter Michael McDowell and Penske’s Austin Cindric, the former leading the first lap. On top of this, Kyle Larson had to serve a pass-through penalty at the start from an inspection infringement, leaving him one lap down. 

As they continued, the field went three-by-three all the way through. Once the three-wide groups evened out, they were led by Chase Briscoe down low, Martin Truex in the middle, and BJ McLeod on the outside.

Speaking of the latter, McLeod – who’s team, Live Fast Racing, sold their charter following last season – was a massive surprise. He wasn’t the only shock to lead laps, as Rick Ware’s Justin Haley and Kaulig’s Daniel Hemric each led some laps.

However, once green flag pit stops neared, a bad push by Texas winner Chase Elliott sent McLeod into the turn three wall. Though it was only a slight tap, the incident lost the Live Fast team a bunch of time.

On the topic of green flag stops, they all went without a hitch with the exception of Denny Hamlin. Coming into the pits, he locked up and hit the side of John Hunter Nemechek, spinning the JGR driver around. Although he suffered no damage, he – like McLeod – lost a lot of time to the front. 

Hamlin's spin into the pits; Credit - Sean Gardner / Getty Images

Once pit stops cycled, Austin Cindric and Chase Elliott led the race, but Larson slotted into the inside to lead the lane despite being a lap down, trying to stay in position to get his lap back. The first stage would finish this way, as Cindric narrowly beat Elliott to the line to win the stage followed closely by Daytona 500 champion William Byron.

After a strong stop, Kyle Busch found his way to the front and took the green flag for stage two on lap 68 alongside Ryan Blaney. With a few more laps of trying to sort out the order in the goal of fuel-saving, John Hunter Nemechek eventually cycled to the front. A few more surprises were seen leading laps during those few laps too. Anthony Alfredo for Beard Motorsports found his way up front as did Shane van Gisbergen and Noah Gragson.

Proceedings evened out with Nemechek, Van Gisbergen, and Chris Buescher leading the main three lanes until green flag pit stops yet again on lap 102. During the second lap of cycles, Spire’s Corey Lajoie went for a spin after he ran over a puddle on the apron, but no caution came out. 

Things finally evened out once the final group pit on lap 112. The leader – now only one line – was Buescher followed by Ryan Preece. As the stage wound down though, it became a two-horse race between Joey Logano – pushed by Cindric – and Kyle Larson – pushed by Tyler Reddick, but it was Cindric who pushed Logano to stage victory. Cindric finished second and Larson finished third.

Joey Logano won stage two; Credit - James Gilbert / Getty Images

The race went back to green on lap 127 led by previous stage winner Joey Logano and Ross Chastain. They led the two main lanes until lap 133 when the first caution for an incident came out. Following a faulty push by Elliott, Justin Haley was sent spinning into Christopher Bell, resulting in Bell hitting the wall and suffering major damage. Bell got the worst of it and retired from the race, but Haley continued with minimal damage.

Under the caution, many cars stayed out, which meant that Josh Berry and Noah Gragson would lead the field to the green flag, with Daniel Hemric leading a third lane. However, polesitter Michael McDowell took the lead fully with 47 to go and began clocking the runs – a sign that aggression was now picking up.

With 40 to go, urgency seemed to decrease as the fuel situation began to become paramount. The field went single-file on the outside of the track to save fuel. This evened out to a top three consisting of McDowell, his teammate Todd Gilliland, and RFK’s Brad Keselowski. Shane van Gisbergen was also still competitive, sitting in eighth in his first ever Cup oval race.

With the fuel situation, green flag pit stops occurred with 37 to go. Some notable names in the first group included the 23XI pair of Reddick and Wallace, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex. 

But in this very group bred the next caution. Going into turn three, Nemechek pushed Wallace very aggressively, which resulted in him getting loose and tagging Erik Jones ahead. This sent Jones and Wallace head-on into the wall at high speed. As Nemechek came back down, he tagged Denny Hamlin and sent him into the wall as well. Hamlin and Wallace walked away unscathed, but Jones initially complained of back pain following the crash. Thankfully, Jones was checked and released.

The race restarted with 27 laps to go. With fuel no longer a worry, the urgency amped up as Reddick and McDowell led the race. As McDowell fully took the lead once more two laps later, he began blocking the runs from Reddick and Keselowski more aggressively. 

With nine laps to go, aggression increased and a third lane started to form. It started led by Ryan Preece, but it didn’t gain enough energy to surge to the front until about five-to-go, now led by Van Gisbergen. 

Three-to-go saw the third lane really form as Gibbs and Busch jumped out, but it dissolved quickly as the former stacked it up. 

The final lap saw McDowell and Keselowski push ahead on the outside, but coming to the line, McDowell blocked too aggressively and caused a massive wreck on the frontstretch. As a result, Tyler Reddick snuck through to take the victory, his first of the season. In the crash, many were involved, but Corey Lajoie got the worst of it as he crossed the line upside down in nineteenth.

The big one on the final lap saw Corey Lajoie (#7) go upside down and Josh Berry (#4) catch air; Credit - James Gilbert / Getty Images

Giving good pushes the whole time was Brad Keselowski who eventually came home second. Noah Gragson recorded his best career finish in third. Ricky Stenhouse finished out a rare quiet day in fourth, and rounding out the top five was Alex Bowman.

Anthony Alfredo recorded an impressive sixth with his unchartered team. William Byron continues his hot streak to finish seventh. Todd Gilliland was the sole Front Row Motorsports car in the top ten, finishing eighth. Daniel Hemric records his first top ten since 2022 in ninth, and rounding out the top ten was Harrison Burton, who gets his fifth top ten finish.

Catch the next round of NASCAR action next Sunday, as they tackle the tricky concrete oval of Dover!


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