Path cleared on last lap for Chastain to win wild Talladega Cup race

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Path cleared on last lap for chastain to win wild talladega cup race
© Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images Race winner Ross Chastain, TrackHouse Racing, Moose Fraternity Chevrolet Camaro

Erik Jones was leading on the final of 188 laps but the drivers behind him were getting antsy to make a move. Finally, Kyle Larson drove to the top lane to get around him and Jones followed him in an attempt to block.

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Chastain, who was running third on the last lap, elected to remain on bottom lane and when those around darted up the track, he stayed low and held of Austin Dillon by 0.105 seconds to earn his second career win and second this season.

It’s also his second win in the last five races and for his team, Trackhouse Racing.

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“Holy cow. I’m always the one going to the top too early and making the mistake,” Chastain said. “With eight to go, I was like, ‘No I’m not going up there. I’ll just ride the bottom. I’m not going to lose the race for us.’

“I have no idea (what happened). They kept moving out of the way!”

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Asked what he thought was possible joining Trackhouse this season, Chastain said, “Justin Marks (team co-owner) and what he laid out for us was ambitious, I had no idea what to expect other than I’d have my group from last year.

“They were believing in us. We had a lot of races open (for sponsorship) to start this year, they’re almost all filled now.”

Jones, dejected, said he wished he had made a different decision on the final lap.

“That last lap, right? I’ve been close here so many times,” he said. “I felt pretty good, but that top line was getting momentum. Looking back, I wish I’d stayed on the bottom.

“I tried to defend (Larson). It is what it is, just trying to win the race.”

Kyle Busch finished third, Larson was fourth and Martin Truex Jr. ended up fifth.

Completing the top-10 were Jones, Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell, Alex Bowman and Kevin Harvick.

Denny Hamlin, who was running up front late in the race, was forced to pit with three laps remaining because he was low on fuel.

Read Also:NASCAR Cup Talladega results: Chastain wins

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all the lead-lap cars pit with Jones the first off pit road.

On the restart on Lap 126, Jones led the way followed by Kyle Busch, Harvick and Ryan Blaney.

Blaney gave a big shove to Kyle Busch that allowed him to move into the lead on Lap 127.

With Kyle Busch on the inside lane, up top, Bubba Wallace pushed Blaney to the lead on Lap 129.

With 40 laps remaining in the race, Blaney remained up front with Wallace, Kyle Busch, Jones and Harvick right behind him.

On Lap 152, Wallace went to the high line and abandoned Blaney and moved into the lead. One lap later, Jones got a shove to move out front as Blaney moved into second and Harvick third.

Chastain moved up behind Wallace and gave him a shove back into the lead on Lap 155.

Several Ford drivers kicked off a final round of green flag pit stops on Lap 158. Most of the Chevrolets and Hamlin pit on Lap 159. A final group of Toyotas pit on Lap 160.

Brad Keselowski was penalized – again – for speeding on pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty. Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell made contact exiting pit road, which sent Bell into a spin, but there was no caution.

Teammates #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/daA9OFGiQd

— Motorsport.com (@Motorsport) April 24, 2022

Once the round of stops was completed on Lap 162, Hamlin cycled into the lead.

With 20 laps to go, Hamlin remained out front with Larson, Jones, William Byron and Chastain close behind.

On Lap 171, Larson went to the outside of Hamlin and moved into the lead, bringing Jones and Byron behind him.

With five laps remaining, Byron gave Jones a big shove into the lead.

Stage 2

Byron held off teammates Elliott and Larson to take the Stage 2 win.

Bowman was fourth and Truex rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all the lead-lap cars pit with Larson the first off pit road. Kyle Busch was penalized for removing equipment and had to restart from the rear of the field, as did Austin Dillon, who had an uncontrolled tire on his stop.

The race returned to green on Lap 65 with Larson out front, followed by Byron, Elliott and Jones.

With a shove from Wallace, Jones moved into the lead on the restart. Larson, with a push from Byron, reclaimed the lead on Lap 66. Jones edged ahead on Lap 70.

Greg Biffle’s No. 44 lost power on the track and stalled off Turn 4 which brought out a caution on Lap 82.

The lead-lap cars all pit with Byron the first off pit road thanks to a fuel-only stop. When the race returned to green on Lap 86, Byron was followed by Truex, Elliott, Larson and Blaney.

B.J. McLeod spun off Turn 2 on the restart after losing a right-rear tire to place the race back under caution. The race resumed on Lap 90 with Byron still in the lead.

Shortly after the restart, Wallace got into the back of Joey Logano, which turned Logano’s No. 22 into the wall and triggered a nine-car accident that also collected Daniel Suarez, Harrison Burton, Ty Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Todd Gilliland and Austin Cindric.

That restart did not go well… #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/RVXm63pMQX

— Motorsport.com (@Motorsport) April 24, 2022

“Barely touched him,” Wallace said over his team radio.

Logano was among those were knocked out of the race. “It stinks. Just Talladega, I don’t know,” he said. “Some people love it, can’t say that I do.”

The race resumed on Lap 98 with Byron out front, followed by Truex, Elliott, Jones and Larson.

On Lap 106, Cody Ware wrecked entering Turn 1 after contact with David Ragan to bring out the sixth caution of the race.

Several cars – including Jones, Wallace and Harvick – elected to pit. Bell was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

Byron was among those who stayed out and remained in the lead when the race resumed on Lap 111.

Stage 1

Wallace claimed the Stage 1 win under caution as a multi-car wreck erupted with three laps remaining.

Larson ended up second, Bell third, Byron fourth and Truex rounded out the top-five.

Bell started on the pole and took control early. Once the pack fanned out to race three-wide, Suarez powered into the lead on Lap 10.

With 40 laps remaining in the stage, Suarez led a single-file line up front followed by Byron and Bell.

On Lap 33, Tyler Reddick dropped on pit road and stopped in his pit stall. “It’s blowing up,” Reddick said over his team radio.

A group of Fords pit on Lap 34 to begin a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Keselowski was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty. Cody Ware also spun as he left pit road but with no caution.

On Lap 36, several Chevrolets elected to pit for their stop. Chastain was penalized for speeding and had to serve a pass-through penalty.

Once the round of stops was completed on Lap 38, Larson cycled into the lead.

With 15 laps to go, Larson led the way followed by Byron, Elliott, Jones and Wallace.

On Lap 51, Wallace – with a number of Toyotas behind him – drove to the front on the outside and moved into the lead.

Larson got a shove back to the lead on Lap 54, and Wallace edged back ahead on Lap 55.

On Lap 57, Daniel Hemric experienced an engine issue, slowed and got turned by Austin Dillon. Hemric’s No. 16 Chevrolet then shot back up the track and into Chase Briscoe, who also collected Chris Buescher.

Big hits for @ChaseBriscoe_14 and @Chris_Buescher as they are collected in @DanielHemric’s spin. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/oaYJQXVtUI

— Motorsport.com (@Motorsport) April 24, 2022

There was not enough time to restart the race before the end of the stage.

Landon Cassill had to serve a pass-through penalty after taking the green flag because of multiple pre-inspection failures on Friday. Noah Gragson started from the rear due to unapproved adjustments.

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