Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – TALLADEGA, AL – A small misjudgment may have cost Alex Bowman a chance to advance to the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Bowman was out front in Monday’s rain-delayed 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway when he tried to block a strong run by Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer, who were advancing at a much higher rate of speed.
Slight contact from Logano’s Ford sent Bowman’s No. 88 Chevrolet spinning toward the apron and triggered a 10-car wreck that crippled Bowman’s car and damaged the machines of six other Playoff drivers in the process.
After retiring from the race in 37th place, Bowman heads for next Sunday’s race at Kansas 12th in the series standings and likely needing a victory to advance to the next round.
“I knew the No. 22 (Logano) was coming, and I just tried to move down just a little bit. As soon as he touched me, it just turned it sideways. They just had a bigger run than I realized. I should have let them go and shouldn’t have thrown a block. I apologize to all the cars that got torn up. That’s on me. Talladega happens. I hate it for all of our sponsors.”
“The spoilers are so big now, that even though they are clear, the cars shake so much you really can’t see. At least I couldn’t. My mirrors are super shaky, and trying to look through a thing of lexan is tough. Just didn’t do a very good job of judging it, and that’s on me.”
DENNY HAMLIN OVERCOMES ISSUES TO RUN THIRD AT TALLADEGA
Denny Hamlin sustained damage in a 10-car wreck on Lap 107 of Monday’s rain-delayed 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota also had a cowl flag break free from his car earlier in the race.
Despite the issues, Hamlin was charging at the finish, and he took the checkered flag in third place, just .059 seconds behind race winner Ryan Blaney. As a result, Hamlin heads to next Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway on top of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, a comfortable 56 points ahead of Alex Bowman, the first driver below the cut line for the Round of 8 in the series Playoffs.
“(The race) changed with every caution,” said Hamlin, who hung back until the very end, wary of the multicar wrecks that caused enormous attrition on Monday. “It changed with every car that fell out. I mean, just a game of chess all day. Sure, we could have got up there and raced, got in the middle, but we would have been in all those wrecks. Didn’t make sense to me.
“I knew the statistics, the odds, the chances. I looked at how many cars were on the lead lap if we were to crash at that point in the race. It just wasn’t worth the risk. There wasn’t enough to gain with cars still crashing. We waited till the bulk of them got out, then went up there and tried to win. We almost did.”
CHASE ELLIOTT SALVAGES DECENT FINISH BUT LIKLEY NEEDS A KANSAS WIN
Chase Elliott thought his car was damaged severely in a Lap 107 wreck in Monday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
But timely cautions and exceptional work by his pit crew not only allowed Elliott to continue in race but also to salvage an eighth-place finish. Nevertheless, he leaves Talladega 10th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, 22 points below the cut line for the next round of the Playoffs.
In all probability, Elliott will have to win on Sunday at Kansas to advance to the Round of 8.
“We had our ups and downs for sure today,” Elliott said. “Got caught up in that crash, but my guys did a nice job of putting it back together as best we could. Just head out west to Kansas now and try to get a win out there. That’s about all we can do now.
“You have to have the mindset to go out there and control what we can control and do everything we can to get a win. That’s all we can do.”