Sunday, Feb 05

NCS: Late race caution and a push from Erik Jones, Chase Elliott wins Yellawood 500 at Talladega

NCS: Late race caution and a push from Erik Jones, Chase Elliott wins Yellawood 500 at Talladega Getty Images for NASCAR

 

The opening stage of the Yellawood 500 was a matter of a high-speed chess game being played at nearly 200 mph with Almirola, Chastain, Hamlin and others trading the top spot. But it wouldn’t be without its own set of chaos when an eight-car wreck going into turn one would break out when Stenhouse got a bad push on Burton to collect several other drivers including Gibbs which would also end his day.

“I know he hit me and as soon as he did I was crossed up and going side-to-side.  I don’t know what to do different.  I pulled up kind of conservatively to give him time to prepare and I’m not sure why.  He gave me a pretty hard shot for sure, but I don’t know if it was off line, where he was when he hit me, or if I was moving while he was moving.” Said Burton

Gibbs who was further behind but still collected in the incident would echo the same comments as Burton. “I think the 21 (Harrison Burton) just got a bad push and wrecked. There was just nowhere for me to go. It definitely sucks, but it could be a blessing in disguise.”

Another one car wreck would slow the stage when Lajoie would blow a tire going into turn one and ride through the bottom of the track before coming to a rest on the back.

As the stage laps began to wind down it was Hamlin and Byron an unlikely pair after last week in Texas working together at the front of the field trading spots and blocking for the lead but with feet to the line Blaney would pull his No. 12 machine down and beat Hamlin to the line by a mere two feet to take the first stage win of the day.

Stage two would go wire to wire under green with Chase Elliott crossing the line first to take home the stage win over Haley, Larson, Suarez and Jones.

Bell would have a problem earlier in the stage when coming down for his green flag pit stop with other Toyota teammates would loop the car entering pit road causing Hamlin and Truex to split him avoiding contact.

Reddick who had led three times during the stage for 11 laps while leading would bail out on the back and head to pit road when his No. 8 machine would run out of fuel after the team wasn’t able to get the car full under his green flag fuel stop.

When the green flag went back in the air for the final stage would all but go caution free when just five laps remained Daniel Hemric would bring out the final caution of the day after stopping his No. 16 machine at the end of pit road forcing NASCAR to throw the caution to get him out of the way.

The final green flag of the day would go back in the air with just two laps remaining in the race. While there was an expectation of chaos ensuing even noted by Almirola and crew they were going to go back green and "we're all going to smash into each other and see what happens." remarked Almirola coming back to green.

But it never happened the final two laps were a masterclass in drafting and pushing with Erik Jones who had been at the front of the pack even leading many times throughout the day and the preferred pushing car by many of the drivers up front.

Jones would eventually pull into the tire track of Chase Elliott pushing Elliott to the victory in the Yellawood 500 over Blaney by just 0.046 seconds, McDowell, Chastain and Hamlin would round out the top-five.

“Yeah, it was a wild last couple laps. I wasn't super crazy about being on the bottom. Fortunately I got just clear enough off of two to slide up in front of Erik. He gave me some great shoves. Obviously a Team Chevy partner there.” Said Elliott

The final round of 12 returns next Sunday, October 9th at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America ROVAL at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

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