Surprisingly, Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway saw extremely long green flag runs, but as is usually the case at NASCAR’s biggest and baddest track, the race ended in a multi-car wreck. The leaders were able to avoid getting caught up in the mix, which gave Joey Logano his third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and the sweep of the Contender round of The Chase.
Unfortunately for fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Logano’s win came at the expense of his championship bid. Earnhardt was in a must-win scenario heading to Talladega, and with him and Logano on the front row for the second green-white checker restart, it looked as though he was going to pull it off.
When the green flag came out, Earnhardt and Logano got away clean and raced neck-and-neck to the start-finish line. Behind them, Kevin Harvick’s bad engine caused a backup of cars which then turned into a multi-car wreck, putting out a yellow flag. NASCAR officials had to review the timing loops to see who was out in front when the yellow came out and eventually determined Logano to be the winner.
“I had a good start, and then the 24 was pushing me and the plan worked perfectly but the inside lane started pulling back up,” Logano told NASCAR.com. “I saw the (caution) lights come on when I was still in the lead, and I thought we had it.”
“It’s all about how the timing loops are and the camera makes sure that is what happened. It’s such a crazy race,” he added. “There were such long green flag runs, you never see that. To pull it into victory lane here at Talladega is so cool.”
The first attempt at finishing the race under a green-white checker ended with Jimmie Johnson and other cars wrecking almost immediately after the green flag came out. The leaders weren’t able to cross the start-finish line before the yellow flag was waved, so the attempt didn’t count. Despite the result, Earnhardt was happy with the way NASCAR handled the end of the race.
“Everybody is going to ask me a hundred times how I feel about the green-white-checkered rule now,” said Earnhardt. “I feel good about it. It was a good safe call. The race ended per the rules, and I’m totally OK with that.”
“They decided officially who won the race, and Joey won it. He has had an awesome round. Unbelievable, really. We did everything we could today. Almost perfect, tried really hard.”
Along with Earnhardt, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth (26th) and Denny Hamlin (37th) and Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman (12th) were also knocked out of the Chase. Team Chevy’s Jeff Gordon remains in championship contention along with other Chevy drivers Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.