Sunday, February 25

Ross Chastain Triumphs Amid Last-Lap Chaos at Talladega

Ross Chastain spent the closing stages of the GEICO 500 as the third driver in line on the inside row, biding his time to make his move. When leader Erik Jones opened up too big of a gap, Chastain gave Kyle Larson a huge push toward the lead. Jones threw a block, running Larson way up the track, and Chastain kept the wheel straight as chaos commenced around him. The eighth-generation watermelon farmer led only the final lap en route to scoring the second NASCAR Cup Series win of his career and becoming only the second multi-time winner of 2022. 

After finishing runner-up at Atlanta Motor Speedway from a similar position, Chastain changed his approach in the final laps of this one, telling FOX reporter Regan Smith, “Holy cow. I’m always the one going to the top too early and making the mistake. There at the end, it was like eight to go, and I was like, I’m not going up there again, I did that a couple times today. I’m just riding the bottom, if it works. . . I’m not gonna lose the race for us”. 

He continued, almost incredulous, “They just kept moving out of the way.”

Austin Dillon emerged from the chaos to finish second, with Kyle Busch third and Larson scoring the first superspeedway top five of his career. Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five, with Jones having to settle for sixth after leading 25 laps on the day. Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell, Alex Bowman, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 10. 

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Despite an early scare for mid-pack contact between Joey Logano and Jones, stage one stayed calm and caution-free almost in its entirety. With a handful of laps left, Bubba Wallace led the outside line to the front. On lap 56, Daniel Hemric’s engine failed in the middle of the pack, sending the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevy spinning up the turn 3 banking into the path of Chris Buescher and Chase Briscoe, eliminating all three from the race. 

Hemric wasn’t the only ECR-powered Chevrolet eliminated with engine trouble, as stablemates Tyler Reddick and Greg Biffle also exited early with mechanical problems.

NASCAR determined that the No. 23 was ahead at the moment of caution, and Wallace scored his first stage win of the season, the third of his career. 

The cautions came quicker in stage two, including a nine-car crash on a restart triggered by contact between Jones, Logano and Wallace that collected Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Austin Cindric, among others. The story of the stage was the four-car blockade of Hendrick Motorsports, who lined up on the inside and dominated. William Byron won stage two from his teammates Elliott and Larson for his third stage win of 2022.

Next Sunday (May 1), the Cup Series makes its sole annual trip to the state of Delaware, for a 400-mile race at Dover Motor Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

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