Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP, Inc.

Multi-Car Crash Highlights First Half of GEICO 500 at Talladega

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

TALLADEGA, Alabama – There are three constants in life: death, taxes, and multi-car crashes in restrictor plate races. On Sunday, the latter came just 71 laps into the GEICO 500 at Talladega, ending the day for a handful of cars.

Throughout the first two stages, handling issues were prevalent throughout the field, with drivers complaints being heard up and down pit road. As they came off of Turn 2 and entered the backstretch, the inevitable crash happened.

Erik Jones clipped the apron, causing his No. 20 Toyota to drift up the track into Jamie McMurray and from that point the crash was on. By the time all was said and done, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex, Jr. joined them with damage.

“I’ve been fighting a loose car all day and the XYO Networks Camry has been free,” said Jones. “I believe I got down on the apron there a little bit and after that it took off on me and I got up into the 1 (Jamie McMurray) and that was kind of it from there.

“I feel bad that I ruined everybody’s day that was around me and also for our day. These cars are just really challenging to drive now and I think that’s why you’re not seeing a ton of racing early on. Unfortunately, I just pushed it to the limit a little too much and got up in an accident that took us out.”

It was a continuation of a week to forget for Bayne, who made heavy contact with the inside wall, after he learned that he would have to move to a part-time schedule later this season to accommodate Matt Kenseth at Roush-Fenway Racing.

“We went into turn one and I saw Kyle Busch kind of get rooted up high,” said Bayne. “The third lane seemed to be the best for us. The car was on the splitter and the higher I could stay the better off we were. I went to the top to keep my run going and coming off the corner. I didn’t see what happened but watching the replay it looks like the 20 got turned and turned up into us.

“It stinks. You try to manage your highs and lows though. We will move on and go to Dover next weekend. It is frustrating because Talladega is one of the ones you know you can win at and we wanted to do that today.”

Larson was able to drive away from the crash, but his team ran out of time to get the car repaired and he was done for the day after his six-minute crash clock expired as part of the Damaged Vehicle Policy.

“I think everybody’s cars were really on the edge so I think that’s why so far we’ve seen a lot of single-file racing,” said Larson. “It’s just because it’s tougher, I think, for anybody to be aggressive because they’re out of control in a single-file line, at lease I am. It looks like other people are.  I don’t know. I was ready to get to go do some racing.

“That whole first stage was a little uneventful you know, just single-file. I think we had a group of like six cars, so I was ready to hopefully get to race aggressively in the second stage. But, I’m not really sure what happened in the wreck. I saw Jamie (McMurray) get loose and then I saw the No. 20 (Eric Jones) get into the wall and then I had nowhere to go and got into Jamie. I hate that we tore up a Credit One Bank Chevy. Like I said, I was just kind of ready to go racing and didn’t really get to today.”

As for McMurray and Truex, both teams were able to get them back out on track, but as of the end of stage two, McMurray sits seven laps down and Truex is three laps down, in 36th and 33rd, respectively.

Truex’s crew did get a but ingenious in their repairs of the No. 78 car, breaking out a circular saw normally used in cutting concrete to cut away damaged parts from their Toyota in an effort to get him back out on track.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.