Tyler Reddick escapes closing mayhem, wins Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Jordan Brand Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 21, 2024 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Final block goes wrong for race leader Michael McDowell, allows Reddick to power through to victory

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Tyler Reddick drove through the wreck and on to victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

At the track known for “The Big One”, it was the last one that proved to be the difference.

Reddick, Michael McDowell, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr. were battling to the end of Sunday’s race on the superspeedway’s 2.66-mile tri-oval – NASCAR’s longest track.

Reddick, driving a 23XI Racing Toyota Camry, and McDowell, driving a Front Row Motorsports Mustang Dark Horse Ford were side-by-side with Truex, in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota drafting Reddick and Keselowski and his RFK Mustang behind McDowell as Fords and Toyotas lined up in rows to try to push the frontrunners to victory.

Tyler Reddick (45) leads Brad Keselowski, and Noah Gragson (10) to the finish line to win Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Photo by David Barks.

As usual in superspeedway races, it was every man for himself coming out of the final turn.

McDowell took the lead, went to the high side to block, and then down low to hold off Keselowski’s challenge.

In the final few feet, McDowell got turned around, setting off a multi-car crash that slowed Keselowski just enough to give Reddick his chance.

“I had some momentum but not enough to win the race,” said Reddick, who was in third place coming out of the final turn. “But when Michael and Brad got crossed up, I mean, it slowed Brad down just enough that I was breaking through and I was just looking at the lights on the wall, on the catch fence, like when’s the caution gonna come out? I don’t know if I crossed the line first or the caution came up before I got there but obviously we won the race. So that was it. It was nuts.”

“We did a good job keeping those Mustang Dark Horses up front,’’ said McDowell, who led a race-best 36 laps. “He [Keselowski] did everything right. He pushed me. I was able to get in front of him the first time but when I came back down I barely wasn’t clear. I’ll have to watch the replay. I hate it. I hate it we didn’t make it to the finish line. We had such a fast Mustang today. We just came up short and took a lot of guys out and I apologize.’’

Michael McDowell, driver of the #34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, spins after an on-track incident on the final lap of the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 21, 2024 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

The 0.208-second margin of victory gives the 28-year-old from Corning, CA, his first win of 2024 and sixth of his Cup career.

Noah Gragson finished third followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Alex Bowman, Anthony Alfredo, William Byron, Todd Gilliland, Daniel Hemric, and Harrison Burton.

For a track known for spectacular multi-car crashes, Sunday’s race was remarkably tame.

The day’s first two cautions were called for stage breaks – with Team Penske teammates Austin Cindric and Joey Logano winning Stages 1 and 2, respectively.

On Lap 132 of the scheduled 188-lap race, there was a five-car pileup coming out of Turn 3 that knocked Christopher Bell out of the race.

On Lap 152, six cars, all Toyotas went to the pits to get extra fuel for the stretch run.

The strategy was to pit early so if there was another caution or a series of green flag pit stops, the Toyotas would gain the edge in track position.

The strategy almost backfired when, on Lap155, it was that group of Toyotas that brought out the fourth caution flag.

Erik Jones lost traction and hit the wall, collecting Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, and John Hunter Nemechek. Jones, Hamlin, and Wallace were all done for the day. Nemechek lost any chance of winning, falling four laps off the pace and finishing 33rd.

But Reddick and Truex escaped and were able to avoid the mayhem to keep the Toyota plan alive.

“I just have to give a lot of credit to Ty Gibbs and Martin Truex, it was just us Toyotas left and they pushed me with everything they had. Without Martin and Ty and those pushes we don’t win this race.’’

Joey Logano (22), and Chase Briscoe (14) are out of control as Harrison Burton (21) squeezes by after the last lap multi-car wreck in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Photo by David Barks.

It was the second career win for the 23XI team, co-owned by basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, and the first with Jordan in attendance.

“Well, Denny keeps saying I’m bad luck,’’ said Jordan, ”And today we proved him wrong.”

“It was certainly really crappy day for about 20 minutes (after he was knocked out of the race). And then it all turned around pretty quickly,” said Hamlin. “I watched it from Turn 2 in the infield. I was trying to be the first one out of here but, gladly, I’ll probably be the last one today. So, it’s awesome for them. You know, it takes a ton of focus to kind of do what he did. In that instance, where there’s kind of cars wrecking around you, it just takes a tremendous amount of focus and a little bit of a lot for sure. And you know, happy for this team that to get a win, very deserving win. And, you know, certainly the strategy played out right I mean, it was our misfortune, but it was their fortune that got them up front and they worked the lines perfectly and kept themselves in position and Tyler did a great job and a spotter those last few laps working together with Martin Truex.”

Tyler Reddick speaks with reporters after winning Sunday’s NASCAR race at Talladega Superspeedway. Photo by David Barks.

The 23XI team’s first win was also at Talladega when Bubba Wallace won a rain-shortened race (118 laps of 188) in Oct. 2021.

McDowell won the pole and showed plenty of speed throughout.

But he wasn’t the only driver out front.

There were 23 different race leaders and 73 lead changes including McDowell and Reddick swapping the lead 10 times in the final 27 laps.

The Cup series heads north to Delaware at The Monster Mile at Dover Motor Speedway next Sunday. Truex won last year’s race.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – GEICO 500

Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega, Alabama

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Statistics provided by NASCAR

                1. (Started 18)  Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 188 laps completed.

                2. (22)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 188.

                3. (36)  Noah Gragson, Ford, 188.

                4. (33)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 188.

                5. (12)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 188.

                6. (24)  Anthony Alfredo(i), Chevrolet, 188.

                7. (13)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 188.

                8. (3)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, 188.

                9. (19)  Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 188.

                10. (16)  Harrison Burton, Ford, 188.

                11. (6)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 188.

                12. (26)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 188.

                13. (32)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 188.

                14. (11)  Ryan Preece, Ford, 188.

                15. (9)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 188.

                16. (29)  Josh Berry #, Ford, 188.

                17. (35)  Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 188.

                18. (31)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 188.

                19. (7)  Joey Logano, Ford, 188.

                20. (21)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 188.

                21. (38)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 188.

                22. (15)  Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 188.

                23. (2)  Austin Cindric, Ford, 188.

                24. (34)  Cody Ware, Ford, 188.

                25. (8)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 188.

                26. (4)  Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 188.

                27. (25)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 188.

                28. (17)  Shane Van Gisbergen(i), Chevrolet, 188.

                29. (30)  Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, 188.

                30. (5)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.

                31. (1)  Michael McDowell, Ford, Accident, 187.

                32. (37)  BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 187.

                33. (20)  John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 184.

                34. (27)  Justin Haley, Ford, 184.

                35. (28)  Erik Jones, Toyota, Accident, 154.

                36. (14)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, Accident, 154.

                37. (23)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Accident, 154.

                38. (10)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 132.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  155.977 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 13 Mins, 29 Secs.

Margin of Victory:  0.208 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 21 laps.

Lead Changes:  72 among 23 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. McDowell 1;A. Cindric 2;M. McDowell 3-4;A. Cindric 5;M. Truex Jr. 6;D. Hemric 7-9;*. McLeod(i) 10;D. Hemric 11-14;C. Briscoe 15-16;J. Haley 17-18;M. Truex Jr. 19-21;J. Haley 22-23;M. Truex Jr. 24-31;*. McLeod(i) 32-33;M. Truex Jr. 34-35;*. McLeod(i) 36;M. Truex Jr. 37-38;*. McLeod(i) 39;C. Briscoe 40;N. Gragson 41;C. Elliott 42-43;S. Van Gisbergen(i) 44;B. Keselowski 45;C. Elliott 46-47;A. Cindric 48-51;C. Elliott 52;A. Cindric 53-62;B. Keselowski 63;K. Busch 64-66;R. Blaney 67;K. Busch 68;S. Van Gisbergen(i) 69;*. Alfredo(i) 70;N. Gragson 71;J. Nemechek 72-78;N. Gragson 79;J. Nemechek 80;*. Alfredo(i) 81;J. Nemechek 82-93;D. Hamlin 94;C. Buescher 95;N. Gragson 96;C. Buescher 97;S. Van Gisbergen(i) 98;C. Buescher 99-101;J. Logano 102-105;D. Hamlin 106;J. Logano 107-108;D. Hamlin 109-110;J. Logano 111-113;C. Buescher 114;J. Logano 115-122;T. Gibbs 123;J. Logano 124-126;R. Chastain 127-128;J. Logano 129-130;R. Chastain 131;N. Gragson 132;R. Chastain 133-135;*. Alfredo(i) 136-137;J. Berry # 138-140;D. Hemric 141;M. McDowell 142-157;C. Hocevar # 158;T. Reddick 159-162;M. McDowell 163-170;T. Reddick 171;M. McDowell 172-174;T. Reddick 175;M. McDowell 176-177;T. Reddick 178;M. McDowell 179-182;T. Reddick 183-188.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Michael McDowell 7 times for 36 laps; Joey Logano 6 times for 22 laps; John Hunter Nemechek 3 times for 20 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 5 times for 16 laps; Austin Cindric 4 times for 16 laps; Tyler Reddick 5 times for 13 laps; Daniel Hemric 3 times for 8 laps; Ross Chastain 3 times for 6 laps; Chris Buescher 4 times for 6 laps; * BJ McLeod(i) 4 times for 5 laps; Chase Elliott 3 times for 5 laps; Noah Gragson 5 times for 5 laps; Denny Hamlin 3 times for 4 laps; Justin Haley 2 times for 4 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 4 laps; * Anthony Alfredo(i) 3 times for 4 laps; Josh Berry # 1 time for 3 laps; Chase Briscoe 2 times for 3 laps; Shane Van Gisbergen(i) 3 times for 3 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 2 laps; Carson Hocevar # 1 time for 1 lap; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 1 lap; Ty Gibbs 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 2,9,24,12,8,21,20,6,45,48

Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,2,5,3,1,45,17,9,41,54

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