“Talladega: World’s Fastest Junkyard,” quipped FOX Sports announcer Mike Joy after an 18-car crash broke out on the backstretch of the 2.66-mile superspeedway with 19 laps to go in Sunday’s GEICO 500.
Couldn’t have summed it up any better.
After a relatively quiet race by Talladega standards through the first 170 laps, the inevitable “Big One” was coming and when it came, it certainly was big.
Coming off Turn 2, AJ Allmendinger, who was running third, made contact with the second-place driver, Chase Elliott, turning Elliott dead right across the track in front of the still oncoming pack and by the time the spinning and crashing was complete, a total of 18 cars were involved. Elliott would get airborne momentarily after a hard impact with Joey Logano, as his No. 24 Hooters sponsored Chevrolet rode on top of the backstretch wall before settling back down on the track.
Meanwhile, Allmendinger got swept up in the melee and would wind up upside-down on his roof for a couple of minutes before his No. 47 Chevrolet was flipped back over, allowing Allmendinger to climb out unscathed.
“I was battling for the lead,” said Allmendinger. “The No. 18 and the No. 24 were kind of leading the two packs and the No. 4 was just on me. Once I got to Chase (Elliott), I got loose. I barely tapped him. And then I tried to get off him but at that point it was too late. It was just one of those things battling for the lead. The plan kind of went. We waited at the back and started moving forward. The way the pit cycles worked, we were up front and had a great restart. I had the right guys pushing me. I can’t thank everybody enough that’s part of this. I hated that happened, but it’s Talladega. I’m not a big fan of it, but if you’re up front and you’ve got a chance to go for it, racing happens I guess, here.”
“I don’t know that it was really his fault per se,” Elliott said. “He had a big run and he kind of got to my bumper and just happened to be in a bad spot coming up off the corner and was skewed a little bit to my left rear. And when that happens, it just unloads these cars too much. But, I appreciate everybody’s hard work. Our Hooters Chevrolet was really good today. We were able to work our way up towards the front a couple of times. We got hung out a couple of times and finally made our way back forward. I’m really proud of that. Hopefully we can carry some of this speed back to Daytona for the plate race in July and go get ‘em next week in Kansas.”
In addition to Elliott and Allmendinger, the others involved were Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Trevor Bayne, Danica Patrick, who made a hard impact with the inside wall, Ty Dillon, Matt Kenseth, Logano, Gray Gaulding, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Cole Whitt, Erik Jones, Martin Truex, Jr., Corey Lajoie, and Michael McDowell.
The crash would then bring out a 26 minute, 51 second red flag, the third of the weekend between Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
All of the drivers involved would be evaluated and released from the infield care center.