After four-plus hours of NASCAR Cup Series racing, more than 58 lead changes, and two red flags, Denny Hamlin emerged with a controversial victory in the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday (Oct. 4).
With the race having already gone into overtime, William Byron and Matt DiBenedetto made contact while racing for the lead. Hamlin went low to avoid them, going onto the apron and below the yellow line, and was able to use that opening to take the race victory.
WHERE DID HE COME FROM???@dennyhamlin | @TalladegaSuperS pic.twitter.com/hRu8ugOu52
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 4, 2020
To make matters worse for DiBenedetto, he was penalized by NASCAR for forcing Hamlin below the yellow line and was credited 21st position. NASCAR also handed Chris Buescher a penalty for forcing Chase Elliott beneath the yellow line, reversing an initial call to penalize Elliott for passing below the line and placing Buescher 22nd, the final car on the lead lap.
Scott Miller describes the yellow-line calls on the final lap, penalizing Matt DiBenedetto and Chase Elliott and no penalty for race winner Denny Hamlin. Plus his thoughts on eliminating the rule: pic.twitter.com/DzZwE6wfax
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 4, 2020
When the smoke cleared, Erik Jones was second ahead of Ty Dillon, Byron, and Elliott. Ryan Newman finished sixth in front of Tyler Reddick, John Hunter Nemechek, Brennan Poole and Ryan Preece.
Virtually every driver in the NASCAR playoffs was involved in a caution flag on Sunday. As a result, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, and Aric Almirola are below the cutoff line heading to next weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, which will set the field for the Round of 8.
One of the biggest initial calamities of the day struck on the race’s 109th lap with 12 remaining in the second stage, when contact between Clint Bowyer and the rear of Jimmie Johnson‘s car triggered a 10-car melee that included Kurt Busch going airborne. Of the drivers included, five were in the playoffs.
Those involved were Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Bowyer, Poole, Preece, Cole Custer, Brendan Gaughan and Daniel Suarez.
“It was wild, that’s just the nature of this sport,” said Kurt Busch, a winner last week at Las Vegas. “You’re on top one week and everything is fantastic and now you’re here at Talladega. It’s just Talladega, the wild rides continue.”
It wouldn’t be the final time for playoff contenders to have their fortunes altered.
With six laps to go, Bubba Wallace, who had moved into the lead with less than 10 to go, made contact with the wall after getting together with Preece just before the caution flew for debris from James Davison‘s blown tire, bunching up the field. The ensuing restart led to Reddick getting into Kyle Busch coming to the white flag, ending Busch’s day and also involving Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Martin Truex Jr.
After Bristol, Kyle Busch told reporters he'd be eliminated in the next round.
He still has a chance to win at the ROVAL and advance, but after wrecking at Talladega says "hate it when I'm right." #NASCARPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/N0Hd9o1GHL
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 4, 2020
Hopes of just one overtime restart were dashed when Wallace and Preece washed into each other, an incident that also involved the cars of Keselowski and Ryan Blaney.
“I think I came down on the 37 [Preece] there and started that whole deal, that’s on me,” Wallace said. “It was a really good day for us. We have a lot of really good stuff to review. Hats off to my guys for a really good effort.”
It also resulted in race leader Chase Elliott pitting to avoid running out of fuel with the caution flag forcing overtime, stretching the fuel mileage of some of the frontrunners.
That put DiBenedetto in a position to win. But much like Bristol last summer, Hamlin played the role of the heartbreaker.
“I was blocking every which way, it was pure desperation,” DiBennedetto said while fighting back emotions. “That’s the way I drive.”
The NASCAR Cup Series returns in the Bank of America ROVAL 400 next Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
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I was wrong about the last ten laps taking an hour. It was 52 minutes. There should have been another red flag.
NA$CAR and their rules interpretations leave a lot to be desired, especially involving certain teams.
Bubba shoulda won, dang.
Have a feeling Denny will be in the right side of a lot of block/charge calls these days.
Rg72 – I see what you did! Michael Jordan reference?
“IF” Brad makes it to the final four, his car will be hard to beat cause he has a great one waiting.
Done with nascar those calls were total BS. Of course Gibbs gets the call after all who is Matty D? No one. Just a damn good driver and person who got totally screwed.
In a year which they took 7-time down from a second place finish, nothing surprises me anymore. I, Matty D needed this 2nd bad. Now I kinda know how Eric Jones felt!!!!!! Screwed.
that’s it. i’m done with this non sense.
good bye nascar.
you have no use or value to me any more.
can you hear that fat lady?
another one bites the dust
John Hunter has two 11ths at Daytona and now two 8ths at Talladega. Kinda like David Ragan…….
U should be made too race , what if everybody decided to ride around the back or at minimum speed till the last 20 laps
BS win DENNY
Why not let em diamond around the whole f’in track? I mean, they do it at Phoenix and Darlington anyway. Take away nascar’s judgement calls and you’ve got a better race all around. Then if they wanna kill each other, well, it’s “boys have at it” anyway.
Denny didn’t want to scratch his car , so he hide in the back all day with a few others, they should all go minimum speed till last 20 laps like DENNY
Missed the end of the race as I was watching on NBC and don’t have NBCSN. Do you think NASCAR would ever rule against Hamlin after he helped them out on the diversity nonsense?
Everybody raced except a few that hide in the back all day , that’s not racing
U should be made to run your car, what if all the drivers did the minimum speed till the last 20 laps BS nascar