The Big One Strikes Early In Sunday’s GEICO 500 At Talladega Superspeedwayby Hunter Thomas May 3, 2015 0 comments
TALLADEGA, Ala. – During the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, the highly anticipated “Big One” brought out the second caution of the afternoon on lap 48.
The accident began when Trevor Bayne got aero loose during a three-wide situation while exiting Turn 2. Bayne was in the middle of Paul Menard on the high side and last week’s Richmond winner, Kurt Busch on the low side.
“It’s typical Talladega anytime you come out of the infield care center it seems like,” Bayne said. “It’s easy to get torn up here if you’re doing everything right or if you do something wrong. I didn’t feel like we had much in our control there today. Maybe I could have got down a little bit before the 27 (Paul Menard) came by, but it all happened so fast. We just got really loose and that’s gonna happen here. I think handling is becoming an issue here at Talladega, so the cars are moving around a lot more. I did think it was a little early to have Talladega crashes already.”
After getting sideway, Bayne spun into the outside wall, and everyone behind him went scrambling for a clear route.
One of the drivers involved was David Ragan who is competing in his final race this season for Joe Gibbs Racing before moving over to Michael Waltrip Racing to finish out the 2015 season. Ragan won at Talladega Superspeedway back in 2013, so he was looking for another victory to catapult himself into the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“I just saw two cars sideways coming across the track in front of me,” Ragan said. “We were in the third lane and tried to get checked up. I thought we were really going to be fine and then someone from the inside spun across our nose and collected us to the outside wall. Just very unfortunate to tear up a lot of good race cars that early in a 500-mile race, but that’s what you have at Talladega. You have to take the good with the bad at a place like this. It’s just one of those things.”
Kasey Kahne who entered the weekend sixth in the championship point standings said, “They started wrecking in front of me off the corner there and kind of slip up. The No. 6 (Trevor Bayne) probably got clipped. It seemed like everybody was trying to ditch him for a while the finally someone clipped him and spun him or something. I don’t know. I haven’t seen a replay”
Kyle Larson was one of the drivers who took the brute force of the accident. His No. 42 Target Chevrolet was heavily damaged. Larson entered the weekend 20th in the point standings, far away from the ever so important 16th that’ll allow him to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in the fall.
“I think I saw the No. 6 (Trevor Bayne) get loose up ahead, which is kind of been normal the last couple of years it seems like on superspeedways,” Larson said. “So, yeah, just got caught up I thought I was going to miss it there and then the No. 40 (Landon Cassill ) slid across the track. I tried turning back down the race track to avoid him and just got into him and started spinning and hitting the wall and stuff. It sucks because we haven’t really had very many good finishes this year and we have already had a couple of DNF’s (did not finish). We have some work to do to get back up in the points and hopefully make the Chase later this year.”
Last year, Landon Cassill finished 11th at Talladega Superspeedway in the spring and fourth in the fall. Entering this weekend, he and his team were looking for another solid finish, but unfortunately he was also caught up in the mayhem.
“It just got a little disorganized and unpredictable for a few laps,” Cassill said. “So when they are switching from two lanes to three; from inside to outside, it is hard to tell which guys are going to go where. It is unfortunate. I want to win this race so bad. It was going really well. We started 30th so I knew that I needed to either hang out in the back or get myself to the front. It just seemed like lap by lap I could pick my way up through there until we were in the top-10 and had myself in a pretty good line. I actually had just made a move to put the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) car behind me. He gave me a really good push. I felt like in the next lap or two I could be in the top five even have a shot at the lead. It is really unfortunate but when it starts to get unorganized like that, it is hard to tell where some of those guys are going to go.”
Other drivers involved included point leader, Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Danica Patrick. The Fords of Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Aric Almirola were involved, as well. Matt DiBenedetto, Justin Allgaier, Alex Bowman and Brendan Gaughan got a piece of the accident too.
Following the chaos, the red flag was displayed for 11 minutes and 32 seconds.
As of lap 95, there have been 13 lead changes between 11 different drivers. Jimmie Johnson has led the most laps with 42, followed by Jeff Gordon, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate who was leading at the time of the “Big One”. Gordon has led 34 laps so far this afternoon.
Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images