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NASCAR Cup race at Talladega decided by ‘bad move’ and big crash

Michael McDowell blocked Brad Keselowski and Tyler Reddick won

Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

After spending three quarters of the race at a record snailish pace, the GEICO 500 was finally decided by full-throttle racing and a last-minute pair of blocks that resulted in a massive melee that ultimately sent Tyler Reddick to his first NASCAR Cup Series win of the season.  

Michael McDowell was leading the last several laps approaching the final lap and held the spot out of the final corner but needed to throw two block on Brad Keselowski, high and then low, which ultimately triggered the race-ending crash.

The race technically ended at the time of the caution few feet short of the finish line but either way Reddick would have been declared the winner. The winning pass ultimately was Reddick clearing Keselowski and Noah Gragson from the outside on the tri-oval with the finish line closer to Turn 1 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Josh Berry and Corey Lajoie both got air, with the latter crossing the finish line on his side, and numerous other drivers all getting collected in the process.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Ty Gibbs and Martin Truex Jr,” Reddick said. “It was just us Toyota’s left and they pushed me with everything they had so a huge credit to Martin and Ty. Without those pushes we don’t win this race.”

It was the final lap but ultimately, McDowell conceded that he shouldn’t have thrown the block.

“Here’s the reality of it,” McDowell told Sportsnaut after the race. “I made a bad move and crashed the field, and it’s my responsibility to do a better job than that. I need to go back and look at it. It is the last lap at Talladega so you’re going to go for it and I was going for it. I wasn’t trying to be irresponsible. I thought I had room to come down and I didn’t.”

Keselowski didn’t begrudge the decision McDowell made.

“I was looking high on Michael and he did a good job blocking,” Keselowski said after securing a runner-up result. “I turned back down and got a good push from Noah, and Michael came back down to block that, and by then we were kind of a freight train coming and Newton’s Cradled into the No. 34 car and (it was) just too much of a hit for him to be able to save.

“So, it’s unfortunate. I thought we had a really strong day. It looked like we were going to get a Ford 1-2-3 and it didn’t work out. I’m glad to get a good finish but really want the win.”

He ultimately said it was a superspeedway racing thing.

“I don’t know that anybody did anything wrong,” Keselowski said.. “I just still hate that Michael didn’t get the solid day that he deserved, and we didn’t get the win. But that’s how it goes.”

Lajoie landed back on all fours but then got hit by Carson Hocevar, who then shoved Lajoie across the finish line. Hocevar finished 17th and Lajoie was 18th.

“I did a full rotation; so I did like left side on the ground for a bit and then I kind of stopped,” LaJoie said. “Then it flipped over, hit the roof and then landed on all fours. The all fours hit was pretty big. But I’m glad I slipped past the start/finish line.”

LaJoie also said he was relieved that he “gave the seatbelts a good ole tuggy” with three laps to go to prevent injury.

Josh Berry still got a 16th place finish out of it all.

“So far, so good,” he said of no apparent physical injury. “Thankfully, everybody knocked me across the finish line so I was able to finish the race because that’s what’s most important in these deals. We just ride around and save gas and then wreck at the end and thankfully we finished. That’s a positive.”

Todd Gilliland, a teammate to McDowell at Front Row Motorsports, was also caught up in the melee.

“I was fourth in the top lane there and I’m not real sure,” he said. “I saw (McDowell) swapping back and forth but I thought he was in a perfect spot. I wasn’t a little further back but I don’t know. I guess everyone just got out of shape and I was hammering (Berry) through the tri-oval and I don’t know if he hit me or I got squeezed into the wall.”

Noah Gragson just rode behind Keselowski to score a third place finish.

“I was just stuck there,” Gragson told Sportsnaut. “I could never get past (Reddick) but enjoyed working with the Fords. We were good all day.”

For Reddick, the win was especially meaningful as it came with 23XI Racing co-owner Michael Jordan in attendance, his first at-track win after countless trips over the past three years.

“Denny (Hamlin) keeps saying I was bad luck when I come to the track and today, we proved him wrong,” Jordan said of his business partner. “I mean, look, actually he did a good job of wrecking so we could get upfront.”

That was a joke.

“I think Tyler did a good job and unfortunately Bubba (Wallace) couldn’t finish but the whole team did a good job. Look, I’m very happy to be here to see it. Everybody tells me when we win, we have a big celebration, but this is the first time I’ve been here. To my wife and kids and everybody, ‘Yeah, we did it. Sorry I left you home.’”


Tyler Reddick
Brad Keselowski
Noah Gragson
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
Alex Bowman
Anthony Alfredo
William Byron
Todd Gilliland
Daniel Hemric
Harrison Burton
Martin Truex Jr
Chase Briscoe
Ross Chastain
Ryan Preece
Chase Elliott
Josh Berry
Carson Hocevar
Corey LaJoie
Joey Logano
Ryan Blaney
Kyle Larson
Ty Gibbs
Austin Cindric
Cody Ware
Chris Buescher
Kyle Busch
Daniel Suarez
Shane van Gisbergen
Zane Smith
Austin Dillon
Michael McDowell – Accident
B.J. McLeod
John H. Nemechek
Justin Haley
Erik Jones – Accident
Bubba Wallace – Accident
Denny Hamlin – Accident
Christopher Bell – Accident

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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