Denny Hamlin escaped the mayhem that slowed several playoff contenders Sunday, notching his seventh NASCAR Cup Series win of the season in triple overtime at Talladega Superspeedway.
Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota led 27 of the 200 laps to wrap up the YellaWood 500, sealing an automatic berth in the next round of the playoffs. His second victory at the 2.66-mile Alabama track also marked the 44th win of his Cup Series career.
Matt DiBenedetto appeared to finish second by half a car-length in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, but a penalty for forcing William Byron below the double-yellow out-of-bounds line dropped him in the finishing order. That moved Hamlin’s JGR teammate Erik Jones to second place. Ty Dillon claimed a career-best third place with Byron fourth and Ryan Newman completing the top five. It marked the second event in the three-race Round of 12.
A late rash of incidents pushed the race 12 laps past its scheduled 188-lap, 500-mile distance. It also teed up a trio of overtime sprints, which Hamlin handled deftly — driving from sixth place to first in the final lap to win.
Joey Logano led the most laps (45) and his No. 22 Team Penske Ford was among the strongest entries, especially in the late going. But his chances were damaged in a six-car pileup on the frontstretch that forced the second overtime.
By the time the late-race chaos ensued, a pair of multicar crashes in the opening two stages had already jumbled the complexion of the playoff picture. With three laps left in Stage 1, the cars of playoff contenders Alex Bowman and Aric Almirola came together in a contest for the lead, snaring the entries of Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney in their wake. All were able to continue except for Almirola, who was saddled with a 36th-place outcome that dropped him to the bottom of the postseason standings.
Another sizable stack-up near the end of Stage 2 engulfed Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Brendan Gaughan among others, prompting a red flag with 109 laps complete. Bowyer was among the sidelined drivers, and his finish outside the top 30 virtually puts him in a must-win spot for next weekend’s Round of 12 finale.
Gaughan finished 34th in what he says will be his final Cup Series start. The 45-year-old veteran has been an occasional participant in NASCAR’s top division in recent years; his career will end with 10 national-series victories.
The Cup Series’ next race is the Bank of America Roval 400, scheduled next Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Road Course. Four drivers will be eliminated from postseason contention after that event, the sixth of 10 races on the playoff schedule.
THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF THE GO FAST
There was only one player who had the foresight to select Denny Hamlin as their man for Talladega. That player was none other than Jeremy The Coach. So The Coach will have to clear off some room near all of his chameleons in order to display this prestigious award! More importantly, The Coach added a cool 40 points from The Delivernator to his basket.
THE MOVERS AND THE SHAKERS
As happens from time to time, the winning driver is not always the highest scorer. But there are two players who are dancing in the street this weekend. That is a very entertaining thought, being both Bernie The Bay Area Bandit and Edie The Las Vegas Super Star appear to be doing the jig. Both ladies were rooting loud and proud for the second generation driver from Dawsonville, GA, aka Chase Elliott. William Clyde II ran up front all race, and deposited 44 point also into their buckets.
Carole, aka Rudy, was riding shotgun all afternoon with the soon to be unemployed and interviewing JGR driver, That Jones Boy, Erik. Jones was running around inside of the top ten most of the afternoon, even though that is a difficult measurement, with all of the slicing and dicing that occurs at ‘Dega. At the end of the race Jones deposited 41 points into Rudy’s bucket.
Having a very rewarding Talladega Sunday and the third highest scorer was Jeremy The Coach and was mentioned above.
Meanwhile, “our fearless leader”, Amber The Extremely Lucky Cheddar Head, racked up 20 points from her man “Sliced Bread”. Joey Logano’s 26th place and his stage racing racked up some good stage points for The Cheddar Head.
Lastly, Linda The Cookie Mom was able to take home 17 points from her driver, Freaky Fast Kevin Harvick.
Talladega produced large scale movement within our community. When the checkered flag fell at Talladega, two thirds of the players in the fantasy league, seven players in total, changed zip codes.
The biggest mover of the week is Leon Your Most Humble Sheriff. The Sheriff’s afternoon at the track netted him a four (4) position change plummeting him all the way into 6th place this evening.
There was a quartet that moved three places at the end of the day at Talladega. Carole, aka Rudy, Bernie The Bay Area Bandit, Jeremy The Coach, and Jim, aka Chiefy, really stepped up their game Sunday and climbed up the scoring pylon three (3) places to rest in 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 7th places, respectively.
Lastly, there is a trio of players, Snoopy Dawn, Edie The Las Vegas Super Star, and well as Dan The Numbers Cruncher who moved two places Sunday. Edie The Las Vegas Super Star was fortunate enough to climb up two places to sit in 9th place as the Sun set in Alabama. But Snoopy Dawn, and Dan The Numbers Dude didn’t. do so well. At the end of the day both players fell two (2) places to rest in 8th, 11th places, respectively.
STRAIGHT FROM THE CRAPPER
We have a rare occurrence this week. We have a three-fer when it comes to The Crappiest Pick of The Week! Dan The Numbers Cruncher, Snoopy Dawn and Leon Your Most Humble Sheriff exhibited a total lack of expertise this week! Each player was betting big on Aric Almirola and when the checkered flag flew at ‘Dega they each crapped out! All they could muster up for the race was one (1) microscopic point for the race. That put all three in line for The Crappiest Pick of The Week award!
We have a new resident of the luxurious Outhouse this week! Dan The Numbers Dude is making a very serious run at that abode. He has evicted The Vegas Super Star, who had been comfortably entrenched there for the last three weeks. But I will mention that the last person who occupied that abode before The Vegas Super Star was, in fact, our resident accountant, Dan The Numbers Cruncher.
Next week NASCR will be remaining home at Charlotte.
FYI: The investigation into any possible alleged improprieties involving The Cheddar Head’s immediate circle of friends, and the covert knowledge that she may receive under the table, is progressing very nicely. However, I am not at liberty to discuss the particulars of this on going investigation, rest assured that the truth will set us free!
TIL NEXT TIME, PULL YOUR BELTS TIGHT AND LET’S GO RACIN’!