TALLADEGA, Ala. — Talladega Superspeedway, along with Daytona International Speedway, are both well known as great equalizers, where almost anyone who shows up to race could end up in Victory Lane.
Front Row Motorsports got the job done in 2013 at Talladega in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and more recently, Parker Kligerman took the win in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Talladega a few years ago. Both wins were herald as underdog appreciation stories, where teams that normally compete for Top-20 finishes took unlikely victories on those days.
The same can be said for Saturday’s Sugarlands Shine 250, where Spencer Boyd was granted his first career victory, as well as his team, Young’s Motorsports, first career victory.
The ending didn’t come without controversy, as Johnny Sauter was penalized after the checkers for forcing Riley Herbst below the double yellow line. Herbst, a part time driver driving in his first career races in the Truck Series, saw victory slip away when he was forced below the line as Sauter came down upon him.
“Yeah, I could have absolutely stayed in the throttle and wrecked the whole field,” Herbst said. “I didn’t think that was necessary though. Tony Hirschman (spotter) put me in a good spot. He gave me a huge run off of (Turn) 4 and I faked (Johnny) Sauter to the high side and he bought it.
“I went to the bottom and he drove me all the way to the grass. I’m glad NASCAR made the right call there. I’m bummed that he did drive me in the grass because I feel like we could’ve ended up in victory lane for sure. All in all, it was a good day in the 51 Tundra. I’m happy with the result.”
On the flip side of the coin, it was Sauter who actually had the victory snatched from his clutches, and he was none too pleased about the decision handed down by the sanctioning body.
“I went down to put a little block on him (Herbst) but then when I did, I got hooked sideways and that’s just plate racing,” Sauter said. “I didn’t block his advance or anything like that. If I remember, Tony Stewart and Regan Smith had the same deal a few years back.”
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 12, 2019
It’s been mentioned ad nauseam about the manufacturers alliances when NASCAR visits either of the superspeedway tracks. For Austin Hill, it was a day filled with frustration as he not only fought the competing manufacturers, but his own Toyota teammates as well en route to a sixth place finish.
“It was kind of frustrating. The KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) guys, we kind of talked to them before the race started and we were supposed to really work with each other and it didn’t really happen that way,” Hill said.
“I was really frustrated all day about that. I didn’t really have any help from anybody – whether a Toyota was behind me or anyone else. It didn’t matter. No one seemed to want to work with me. It was tough all day.”
I asked @_AustinHill about his race during the post race media bullpen session, and despite a sixth place finish, he was not happy with the lack of teamwork with his fellow Toyota Racing teammates. Here are his words:#NASCAR #SugarlandsShine250 @TalladegaSuperS pic.twitter.com/VfvEnVBMfP
— Justin Melillo (@justinmelillo) October 12, 2019
In addition to the normal mayhem that accompanies these superspeedway races, Talladega is also the first race in the Round of 6 for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, where a bad day could result in an early exit in the playoff battle to make the final four.
Ross Chastain was up front in the late going, but wound up on the back of a wrecker as he crashed from the lead, ending his chances for the victory, and hurting his chances to make the Championship event at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Chastain now finds himself at the bottom of the playoff standings in sixth place, two points outside the cutoff.
Meanwhile, two championship contenders that joined forces for the majority of the race saw the black flag waved upon them for locking bumpers.
Brett Moffitt and Stewart Friesen were both penalized and forced to serve a drive through pit road penalty, as locking bumpers in both the Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series is strictly prohibited, and usually enforced.
As it turns out, the pair came back and finished fourth and fifth, respectively, and both lead the points heading into Martinsville. The cautions at the end of the race helped them both get back on the lead lap, and back into contention.
Essentially, Talladega provided enough drama and implications for one afternoon to stew on and discuss for the next two weeks leading into Martinsville. The points are tight and the emotions will continue to be on high alert as the series goes from the biggest of tracks to the smallest.
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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