Reddick dodges final lap carnage for wild Cup victory at Talladega

With drafting help from two Toyota teammates as team owner Michael Jordan watched atop the pit box, Tyler Reddick rose to the occasion and raced his way to a wild overwhelming NASCAR Cup Series victory in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 21, amid a final lap accident that knocked pole-sitter Michael McDowell out of race-winning contention.

The two-time Xfinity Series champion from Corning, California, led five times for 13 of 188 scheduled laps. Reddick started 18th and kept his No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota Camry XSE intact while working closely with his Toyota teammates amid the draft and the three-wide packed action towards the front.

Despite losing four of his Toyota teammates, including team owner Denny Hamlin and 23XI Racing teammate Bubba Wallace, to a multi-car wreck with 33 laps remaining amid a late cycle of green flag pit stops Reddick cycled into the lead during the caution period. Drafting support from Martin Truex Jr. and Ty Gibbs kept him in contention for a 27-lap dash to the finish as he squared off against Ford competitors Michael McDowell and Brad Keselowski.

Then, on the final lap, Reddick, who led the penultimate lap by a hair over McDowell initially lost ground to McDowell and Keselowski amid the draft. But with two corners remaining, he capitalized on a swerved move by McDowell entering the frontstretch resulting in McDowell spinning in the middle of the track and igniting a multi-car wreck. Reddick was able to zip by both Keselowski and Noah Gragson to cross the finish line by two-tenths of a second ahead of Keselowski and capture his first Cup Series victory of the 2024 season along with his first at Talladega and of the season for 23XI Racing.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup on Saturday, April 20, Michael McDowell captured his second Cup Series pole position of the season and his career after posting a pole-winning lap at 182.022 mph in 52.609 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Austin Cindric, who clocked in the second-fastest qualifying lap at 181.739 mph in 52.691 seconds. 

When the green flag waved and the event commenced, Michael McDowell and Austin Cindric battled for the lead in front of two packed lanes through the first two turns before they navigated through the backstretch. With the field behind still running in two tight-packed lanes through the final two turns and back to the tri-oval, McDowell managed to lead the first lap by a hair over Cindric.  

During the next four laps, the field fanned out to three tight-packed lanes as McDowell and Cindric battled and swapped the lead. Amid the battles, Martin Truex Jr. mounted a charge from the outside lane with drafting help from Bubba Wallace and Daniel Hemric while McDowell started to muscle ahead on the inside lane.

Meanwhile, Kyle Larson, who was not allowed to post a qualifying lap on Saturday due to unapproved adjustments involving his roof rails to his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and was assessed a drive-through penalty on pit road during the opening lap, was mired at the rear of the field and trailing by a distance with no drafting help. 

Over the next five laps, Truex, Hemric and BJ McLeod each led at least a lap while the pack of 37 competitors fanned out to three lanes as they navigated around the superspeedway venue to take advantage of the draft.

Through the first 15 scheduled laps, Chase Briscoe assumed the lead from Hemric on the outside lane amid the tight-packed racing before Justin Haley carved his No. 51 Parts Plus Ford Mustang Dark Horse to the front as he challenged Briscoe for the top spot during the proceeding laps. Despite Briscoe blocking Haley and briefly stalling his momentum through the backstretch by Lap 16, Haley switched to the inside lane and continued to battle Briscoe before he assumed the top spot by Lap 18. Truex, however, would join the battle and lead by the Lap 20 mark. By then, Larson was lapped by the field. 

By Lap 25 and with the field still fanned out to three tight-packed lanes, Truex was ahead with the lead by a hair on the outside lane as Haley was leading the draft on the inside lane and Briscoe was mired as the lead competitor in the middle lane. As Haley, Truex and Briscoe battled against one another for the lead within the draft, Truex continued to muscle ahead and lead the proceeding laps by the Lap 30 mark. 

At the Lap 35 mark, Truex, who led eight of the previous 10 laps, was ahead by a hair over McLeod and Briscoe while he had teammates Ty Gibbs and Denny Hamlin drafting him through the middle lane. McLeod, however, would have Daniel Suarez pushing him on the outside lane as he remained in contention for the lead before Suarez bailed on him by Lap 37, allowing Truex to muscle ahead while Briscoe tried to mount another challenge on the inside lane. McLeod would then receive drafting help from Chase Elliott by Lap 40 to muscle back ahead on the outside lane, with Truex and Briscoe remaining in the middle and inside lanes, respectively.

Then on Lap 40, McLeod went up against the outside wall entering Turn 3, and fell off the pace as the entire field zipped by him. McLeod then pitted as the race remained under green flag conditions. By then, Briscoe had muscled his way back to the lead on the inside lane while Truex fought back on the middle lane. Meanwhile, Elliott was trying to mount a charge from the outside lane and received a push from Ryan Preece through the backstretch to challenge the front-runners for the lead.  

Not long after on Lap 41, Indiana natives Briscoe and Haley peeled off the track to pit under green. Another wave of competitors, mainly Chevrolet competitors led by Suarez and rookie Zane Smith, pitted by Lap 42 before another led by Alfredo and Gragson pitted. During the latest wave, Hamlin, who was trying to slam on the brakes to enter pit road under pit road pace, got loose and ran into the side of John Hunter Nemechek before he spun his No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry XSE on pit road. The race, however, remained under green as Hamlin proceeded to his pit stall while another wave of competitors led by Elliott and Larson, who was a lap down, pitted. By then, Zane Smith and Suarez were penalized for speeding on pit road.  

On Lap 45, the final wave of competitors led by Shane van Gisbergen pitted under green. Once the pit stops cycled through, Elliott emerged as the new leader ahead of teammate William Byron, Kyle Busch, Cindric and Harrison Burton. During the pit stops, Joey Logano was penalized for speeding on pit road as Briscoe would have to pit for a second time to address a flat tire on his entry. 

By Lap 50, Cindric, who assumed the lead from Elliott two laps earlier, was still leading ahead of Elliott, Burton, Byron and Ryan Blaney as the top 30 competitors were separated by a second. As Cindric and Elliott battled for the lead in front of two packed lanes during the proceeding laps, Larson was running in front of teammate Elliott as he was trying to remain on the lead lap following his opening lap penalty. 

Just past the Lap 55 mark, Cindric and Elliott battled for the lead in front of two packed lanes, with Cindric having Harrison Burton drafting him on the outside lane. Elliott was still running behind teammate, Larson, and had teammate Byron drafting him on the inside lane. 

When the first stage period concluded on Lap 60, Cindric edged Elliott by a hair to claim his second Cup stage victory of the 2024 season. Elliott ended up second followed by teammate Byron, Blaney and Kyle Busch while Burton, Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, Tyler Reddick and Alex Bowman were scored in the top 10. Meanwhile, Larson, who was lapped by Cindric at the start/finish line, was the recipient of the free pass as he returned to the lead lap category.  

Under the stage break, nearly the entire field led by Cindric pitted while Brad Keselowski and Anthony Alfredo remained on the track. Not long after, the following names that included Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, Keselowski, John Hunter Nemechek, Logano, Corey LaJoie, Truex and Larson would pit again for extra fuel to their respective entries. 

The second stage period started on Lap 66 as Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney occupied the front row. At the start, Busch briefly muscled ahead exiting the frontstretch until Blaney fought back on the inside lane through the first two turns. As the field started to fan out to three lanes, Blaney received a draft from teammate Cindric and Burton to clear Busch and muscle ahead of the pack through the tri-oval and back to the start/finish line for the following lap.  

Then on Lap 68 and as the field continued to battle through three packed lanes, Shane van Gisbergen mounted a drafting charge to the front followed by Austin Dillon from the outside lane. After clearing both Busch and Blaney, Dillon then bailed on van Gisbergen as he moved his No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in front of teammate Busch’s No. 8 Cheddar’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. But van Gisbergen fought back on the outside lane as he picked up Alfredo as his new drafting partner. Alfredo then bailed on van Gisbergen on Lap 70 as he led while van Gisbergen was shoved out of the draft as he and his No. 16 Wendy’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 slowly drifted to the rear of the field. Meanwhile, Noah Gragson carved his way into the lead during the following lap as he was pursued by John Hunter Nemechek and while Larson was battling Alfredo for third place.  

Just past the Lap 75 mark, Nemechek assumed the lead in his No. 42 AdventHealth Toyota Camry XSE on Lap 72, was leading ahead of Alfredo and a bevy of competitors charging strong amid a scattered, three-wide pack. Despite being pressured by Gragson, Alfredo and Corey LaJoie during the proceeding laps, Nemechek would retain the top spot by Lap 80 as 36 of 38 starters were running within two seconds of one another amid the draft. 

Through Lap 85, Nemechek continued to lead ahead of Gragson and LaJoie while Chris Buescher was trying to mount a charge on the outside lane with drafting help from Gilliland. As Alfredo occupied the inside lane amid a three-wide battle within the pack, the top-36 competitors were separated within three seconds while Nemechek remained in front of Gragson with the top spot. 

At the halfway mark on Lap 94 and with the field running tight in three packed lanes, Hamlin overtook Nemechek for the lead while Cody Ware, Buescher, Gragson, Gilliland, Truex, LaJoie, Preece and Larson were scored in the top 10 ahead of Busch, Austin Dillon, van Gisbergen, Wallace, Cindric, Ty Gibbs, Alfredo, Logano, Byron, Bell, Elliott and Hemric. Meanwhile, Briscoe, who pitted by himself under green earlier, trailed the lead pack by 41 seconds. 

Six laps later, Buescher drafted his No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang Dark Horse into the lead followed by Ford teammates Gilliland, Preece, Logano and Gragson while van Gisbergen, who led on Lap 98 and battled Buescher during the following lap, was shuffled out of the draft for a second time. Meanwhile, Larson occupied sixth place ahead of LaJoie, Wallace, Austin Dillon and Busch as Briscoe was lapped by the field during the following lap. 

Then on Lap 102, another cycle of green flag pit stops commenced as the first wave, mainly Ford competitors led by Buescher, pitted primarily for fuel. Another wave, mainly Chevrolet competitors led by Austin Dillon and Busch, pitted during the following lap. During the second pit sequence, trouble struck for LaJoie, who spun his No. 7 Gainbridge Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 after running into standing water on the asphalt while exiting pit road. Despite LaJoie’s spin, the race remained under green flag conditions as Logano led a wave of 12 competitors who had yet to pit. Logano and Hamlin would then battle for the top spot by Lap 106. 

On Lap 110, Hamlin was leading ahead of teammate Bell, Logano, Cindric and teammate Truex as the top-12 competitors, all of whom had not yet pitted, continued to run on the track while the next wave of competitors comprising those who pitted led by Byron trailed by 33 seconds. Another lap later, Hamlin led a wave of Toyota competitors to pit road under green while the rest, including, Logano, Cindric, Blaney and Josh Berry remained on the track. During the pit stops, Bell was penalized for speeding on pit road as Logano, Berry, Blaney and Cindric pitted by Lap 112. Upon the completion of the pit stops, Blaney was penalized for speeding on pit road as Logano and Cindric managed to blend back onto the track and regain the pace with the field that enabled them to contend towards the front.  

When the second stage concluded on Lap 120, Logano fended off a late challenge from Larson to capture his first Cup stage victory of the 2024 season. Teammate Cindric edged Larson at the start/finish line to claim second followed by Austin Dillon and Ross Chastain while Reddick, Buescher, Elliott, Ryan Preece and Ty Gibbs were scored in the top 10.  

During the stage break, nearly the entire field led by Logano returned to pit road for service while the rest including Keselowski, LaJoie, Briscoe, van Gisbergen, Truex, Gibbs and Alfredo pitted. Following the pit stops, Logano exited pit road first ahead of Larson, Cindric, Chastain, Dillon, Elliott, Reddick, Busch, Buescher and Bowman. Shortly after, Keselowski would lead the rest of the competitors who pitted during the caution period as Logano cycled back into the lead.

With 62 laps remaining, the final stage period commenced as Logano and Chastain occupied the front row. At the start, Logano and Chastain battled dead even for the lead as Logano had Team Penske teammate Cindric drafting him while Chastain had Chevrolet teammate Kyle Busch drafting him. Chastain then muscled away from Busch before moving in front of Logano and Cindric in the draft by the following lap just before the rest of the field caught back up to the top-four leaders. Shortly after, Chastain and Logano returned to battling dead even for the lead in front of two packed lanes with 60 laps remaining. 

With 56 laps remaining, the caution returned after Elliott ran into the rear of Haley that sent Haley into Bell’s No. 20 Mobil 1 Toyota Camry XSE as Bell went back up the track and hit the outside wall head-on in Turn 3 while barely dodging Elliott as Briscoe, Blaney and Zane Smith were also involved. During the caution period, a majority of the field led by Logano pitted while the rest led by Alfredo remained on the track. Once Alfredo and others pitted with 50 laps remaining, Berry cycled into the lead.

During the following restart with 49 laps remaining, where teammates Berry and Gragson occupied the front row, Berry and Gragson battled dead even against their Overstock.com-sponsored Ford Mustang Dark Horses for a full lap. The following lap, Hemric ignited a charge from the outside lane as he assumed the lead in his No. 31 Cirkul Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with drafting help from Chastain before McDowell received a push from Austin Dillon to muscle ahead, clear Hemric and return to the lead.  

With 40 laps remaining and with a majority of the field migrating to the outside lane, McDowell was leading ahead of teammate Gilliland, Keselowski, Busch and Cody Ware while Gragson, Chastain, van Gisbergen, Suarez and Larson were running in the top 10 ahead of Bowman, Elliott, Stenhouse, Buescher, Berry, Alfredo, Logano, Hemric, Burton and LaJoie. 

Three laps later, a bevy of Toyota competitors pitted under green, mainly for fuel. As the Toyota competitors managed to blend back onto the track and remain on the lead lap, McDowell retained the lead over Gilliland, Keselowski, Berry, Hemric, Gragson and a bevy of competitors running two by two in a tight pack with 35 laps remaining. 

Then with 33 laps remaining, the caution flew after Bubba Wallace, who was running in a seven-car Toyota line towards the rear of the field upon pitting under green and trying to regain ground of the lead pack, got Erik Jones’ No. 43 Family Dollar Toyota Camry XSE loose in Turn 3 that resulted with Jones getting turned and sent head-on into the outside wall as Wallace and John Hunter Nemechek also piled into him before Nemechek came back the track and clipped Hamlin as Hamlin also wrecked against the wall while Reddick, Truex and Gibbs escaped the carnage. 

During the caution period, nearly the entire field led by McDowell returned to pit road for fuel while the rest including Carson Hocevar, Reddick, Truex and Gibbs remained on the track as McDowell exited off of pit road first from the first pit stall. Hocevar would then pit not long after as Reddick cycled into the lead. 

As the event restarted under green with 27 laps remaining, Reddick received a push from Toyota teammate Truex to rocket ahead of McDowell with the lead through the first two turns until McDowell came charging back from the inside lane with drafting help from Keselowski’s No. 6 Castrol Edge Ford Mustang Dark Horse. Reddick and McDowell battled side by side for the lead during the following lap until McDowell muscled ahead and was placed on defense as he fended off both Keselowski and Reddick for the lead in his No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang Dark Horse with 25 laps remaining. 

Down to the final 20 laps of the event, McDowell retained the lead ahead of Keselowski, Reddick, Gragson and Berry while Truex, Gibbs, Chastain, Busch, Suarez and 20 additional competitors running within two seconds of one another trailed in a tight two by two pack. 

During the proceeding laps, the battle for the lead was drawn to a side-by-side battle between McDowell and Reddick as Reddick had Toyota teammates Truex and Gibbs drafting him on the outside lane while McDowell had Ford teammates Keselowski, Gragson and Berry drafting him on the inside lane while also trying to gain control of both lanes with 15 laps remaining. 

With 10 laps remaining, Reddick and McDowell continued to swap against one another for the lead and in front of two stacked lanes, with neither stepping out of the throttle nor giving an inch as they kept their respective manufacturer drafting partners lined up behind them. 

During the proceeding laps and with a majority of the field continuing to run in two tight-packed lanes, McDowell started to muscle ahead from the inside lane as he was placed on defense to keep Keselowski drafting him and to stall Reddick’s momentum from the outside lane. Amid his strong defensive drive, Reddick fought back on the outside lane as he continued to challenge McDowell for the lead while a third drafting line led by van Gisbergen, who was running within the top 15, was trying to mount a charge toward the front. Gibbs and Busch would also move up to the third outside lane as McDowell held a narrow lead over both Keselowski and Reddick with two laps remaining. 

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Reddick was leading by a hair over McDowell amid the tight two-pack formation. As the field navigated past the lapped competitor of John Hunter Nemechek through the first two turns, McDowell and Reddick continued to battle dead even through the backstretch until Keselowski drafted McDowell clear ahead of Reddick and the field with Noah Gragson trying to follow suit through Turns 3 and 4.  

Then entering the frontstretch, Keselowski made a move to the outside of McDowell, but McDowell blocked Keselowski. As Keselowski crossed over back to the inside lane, McDowell did the same to make a second blocking attempt, but he got sideways after barely driving off the front nose of Keselowski. This resulted in McDowell spinning back across the middle of the track and igniting a vicious multi-car wreck that nearly collected the entire field and resulted in Corey LaJoie sliding across the outside wall on his side while also nearly turning over Josh Berry in the process and just past the finish line before his car tumbled once and came to a rest right-side up. 

Amid the carnage, Reddick, who dropped to fourth entering the frontstretch, surged his No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota Camry XSE past both Gragson and Keselowski while barely avoiding McDowell’s spinning car through the frontstretch to claim the lead and cross the finish line in first place to score the victory just before the caution flew. 

With the victory, Reddick racked up his sixth career win in the NASCAR Cup Series division, his first at Talladega and his first since winning at Kansas Speedway last September. In addition, Reddick became the sixth winner through the first 10 events on the 2024 Cup Series schedule as he also recorded the fourth victory of the season for the Toyota nameplate and the first of the season for 23XI Racing.

“Man, it’s incredible!” Reddick said on FOX. “Everyone on this No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota Camry worked really hard today. [Things] Didn‘t really work out in that third stage for us, but we were able to fight and defend our track position. Was [that finish] crazy [fans]?! That was chaos! That’s Talladega for you. I got to give a lot of credit to Ty Gibbs and Martin Truex [Jr.]. It was just us Toyotas left and they pushed me with everything they had. Huge credit to Martin and Ty. Without those pushes, we don‘t win this race.” 

The victory celebration for 23XI Racing, which marks the sixth Cup career win for the organization, was also big as team owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan was also present to celebrate in Victory Lane with Reddick, co-owner Denny Hamlin, former 23XI Racing competitor Kurt Busch and the 23XI team. 

“Denny [Hamlin] keeps saying I was bad luck when I come to the track,” Michael Jordan said in Victory Lane. “Today, we proved him wrong. I think Tyler did a good job. The whole team did a good job. I’m very happy to be here to see it. Everybody tells me when we win, we can have a good celebration, but this is the first time I’ve been here. We’ve been working hard, trying to get ourselves up to where we can compete against the top guys in this sport. We’ve done a heck of a job just to be where we are and for us to win a big race like this, it means so much to me and for the effort the team has done. I’m all in. I love it. It replaces a lot of the competitiveness that I had in basketball.”

With Reddick winning the race, Keselowski ended up in second place for a second consecutive week while Noah Gragson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Alex Bowman avoided the final lap carnage to finish in the top five. 

“I was getting some great pushes from Noah Gragson,” Keselowski said. “I thought the Fords were really working well together. We cleared the Toyotas there on the bottom lane and it was pretty clear that it was gonna come down to the three of us [me, McDowell and Gragson]. I backed up, Noah gave me a great push and I went to make a move on Michael [McDowell]. He covered it, went back the other way. I got another push from Noah and just nowhere to go when Michael came back down. I hate that for [McDowell]. He’s a good guy, hope he’s alright. Just kind of the way this stuff goes, right? All in all, really solid day for us, for Ford, for Castrol. Another second. It’s a solid day, but not the win we wanted. Good finishes are important, but we want wins. I could really taste it today, but it just didn’t happen.”

Anthony Alfredo piloted the No. 62 Beard Motorsports entry to a sixth-place result while William Byron, Todd Gilliland, Daniel Hemric and Harrison Burton ended up in the top 10. 

Notably, Truex ended up 11th ahead of Briscoe, Chastain, Preece and Elliott. In addition, LaJoie slid across the finish line on his side in 18th place, Larson ended up 21st in between Blaney and Ty Gibbs and Kyle Busch ended up 27th in between Suarez and Shane van Gisbergen.  

Meanwhile, McDowell, who led a race-high 36 laps from pole position, ended up in 31st place as he was unable to limp his wrecked race car across the finish line to complete the final lap. 

“Yeah, it’s just super unfortunate,” McDowell said in the infield care center. “I just hate it for everybody on this Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang and I hate it for Brad [Keselowski] too because we did a good job of keeping those Mustang Dark Horses upfront. He did everything right. He pushed me out, I drugged back to him and I was able to get in front of him that very first time, but when I came back down, [I] just barely, barely wasn’t clear. I hate it that we didn’t make it to the finish line. We had such a fast Mustang today. It’s unfortunate. It’s been a rough few weeks, but it’s last-lap Talladega. Going for it, trying to get a win and just came up short. [I] Hate that I took a lot of guys with me, so [I] apologize to Brad and everybody that got collected in that. [I’ll] Go back and watch [the replay] and see what we could’ve done better.” 

There were 73 lead changes for 23 different leaders. The race featured four cautions for 21 laps. In addition, 30 of 38 starters finished on the lead lap. 

Following the 10th event of the 2024 Cup Series season, Kyle Larson leads the regular-season standings by 15 points over Martin Truex Jr., 22 over Chase Elliott, 24 over William Byron and 43 over Tyler Reddick. 

Results. 

1. Tyler Reddick, 13 laps led 

2. Brad Keselowski, two laps led 

3. Noah Gragson, five laps led 

4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

5. Alex Bowman 

6. Anthony Alfredo, four laps led 

7. William Byron 

8. Todd Gilliland 

9. Daniel Hemric, eight laps led 

10. Harrison Burton 

11. Martin Truex Jr., 16 laps led 

12. Chase Briscoe, three laps led 

13. Ross Chastain, six laps led 

14. Ryan Preece 

15. Chase Elliott, five laps led 

16. Josh Berry, three laps led 

17. Carson Hocevar, one lap led 

18. Corey LaJoie 

19. Joey Logano, 22 laps led, Stage 2 winner 

20. Ryan Blaney, one lap led 

21. Kyle Larson 

22. Ty Gibbs, one lap led 

23. Austin Cindric, 16 laps led, Stage 1 winner 

24. Cody Ware 

25. Chris Buescher, six laps led 

26. Daniel Suarez

27. Kyle Busch, five laps lef

28. Shane van Gisbergen, three laps led 

29. Zane Smith 

30. Austin Dillon 

31. Michael McDowell – OUT, Accident, 36 laps led 

32. BJ McLeod, one lap down, five laps led 

33. John Hunter Nemechek, four laps down, 20 laps led 

34. Justin Haley, four laps down, four laps led 

35. Erik Jones – OUT, Accident 

36. Bubba Wallace – OUT, Accident 

37. Denny Hamlin – OUT, Accident, four laps led 

38. Christopher Bell – OUT, Accident 

Next on the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Würth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway in Dover, Delaware. The event is scheduled to occur next Sunday, April 28, and air at 2 p.m. ET on FS1. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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