This will most likely go down as one of the most controversial and chaotic endings to a race in the last decade. Heading into Sunday, the focus was on who would be in, and who would be out, of the 2015 Chase. The Contender Round was coming to an end, but also the elimination of four drivers was going to be the end result.
How the round, and the race, ended would be the big discussion.
What seemed like the lone attempt to conclude the race on a green-white-checkered attempt…never was attempted, at least in NASCAR’s eyes. The wreck behind the leaders, before taking the green flag, seemed to end the race. But, officials said no, the attempt never even began because the leaders never came to the line. The drivers out front weren’t sure about the call, but they lined up to try it once again.
That moment, everything went sideways. Not just the cars, but the finish.
Out came the green once again, and behind the front row things went haywire. Cars into the wall, some spinning, and even one on fire. At that moment, the race was over before even one more lap was completed. It took several minutes to conclude who was out front, and when it was concluded, it was the winner from last week, and the previous week, that saw victory once again.
For the first time since it began, the Chase Grid saw one driver sweep an entire round. That man was Joey Logano.
However, at the same time, the guy that finished second, he was one position away from being in the Chase. Instead, he was left looking in from the outside. Dale Earnhardt Jr, along with Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman, saw their title hopes come to an end once the checkered flag waved.
In the league, once again the writers still have gone winless for the first six races in the Chase. But, poor finishes have taken two writers out of the title picture at the end of Sunday’s action.
Meanwhile, the top-six have all been reset to an even point value. Here’s a look at the newly reset Eliminator Round after the chaotic conclusion to the CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega:
Dustin Parks (4000) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd – 3
Misan Akuya (4000) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd – 2
Sal Sigala Jr. (4000) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd – 3
Rob Tiongson (4000) Kevin Harvick finished 15th – 4
Mary Jo Buchanan (4000) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd – 1
Kara Martin (4000) Matt Kenseth finished 26th – 2
Patti Rodisch (2156) Denny Hamlin finished 37th – 4
Klarissa Mitchell (2156) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd – 0
Rob Blount (2134) Matt Kenseth finished 26th – 2
Ashley McCubbin (2123) Jamie McMurray finished 39th – 1
Next Race: I’m sure everyone, whether involved in the Chase or not, or even remotely involved in how Sunday’s race ended, is grateful to be out of Talladega. But now, it gets down to some old-school style racing. The plates come off, and aerodynamics do not mean a thing.
When it comes to the next race, as long as the brakes are still good and one has track position, a victory can be taken.
NASCAR is going from the biggest track, with what could be the biggest controversy, of the season to the shortest. It’s a track with the most unique trophy of them all, because in the end the winner will be able to tell time. It’s a trip to Martinsville, and the shortest track on the circuit.
Writers, the bottom four are able to pick whomever they want. The top six are all even, but must keep going with different drivers. However, everyone must be locked in by Thursday, October 29, at 10 p.m. ET for the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500.