E.A. Sports Today


Another Talladega race, a very Talladega finish, and yet another show to remind fans that drivers run out of gas, but ‘Dega drama never does

TALLADEGA — Sunday’s GEICO 500 ended in double overtime, with stock cars running out of gas or crashing.

It ended with Kyle Busch ending a 15-year victory-lane drought at Talladega, by virtue of his lead when the final yellow flag dropped.

His victorious spinout ended when his wheels suddenly stopped, his No. 8 McLaren Custom Grills Chevrolet having used its last vapors of fuel.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to be lucky, and some of these races come down to that,” Busch said after climbing out of his car at the finish line and celebrating.

Talladega never disappoints and thrilled again in its latest NASCAR rendition.

Fans got free racing, crew chiefs and drivers had to make fuel decisions and two racers racing to win took each other out in the end.

There was lots of good stuff.

It took 183 laps to get to the best stuff, but the best stuff was worth it.

Aggression first met fate on Lap 183, when Daniel Suarez tried to parlay a push into a split between the upper and lower lanes. The gap tightened before he could get through, and he bumped Joey Logano in the high lane.

Logano collected Corey LaJoie and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and the resulting caution carried the race to overtime.

The Lap 189 restart ended quickly, with Ross Chastain trying to split the gap. He bumped Noah Gragson on the outside, and the resulting melee brought out another caution and another overtime.

This time, the white flag got down in time, right before another Turn 1 crash, born of the kind of racing Talladega fans come to see, decided the winner.

Bubba Wallace rode in contention all day and led on the final restart. He tried to block challengers, including Ryan Blaney, who tried to go low as Wallace moved back down to block him.

They hit and took each other out.

“You get big runs, and you take them when you can,” Blaney said. “In my mind, I’m glad everyone was OK. In my mind, if you kind of triple move like that, triple block, and you can’t block three times. I don’t know.”

Yellow came down with Busch in the lead, and Busch won on a good day for his luck.

It wasn’t just his position when the yellow flag dropped. It came down to crew chief Randall Burnett unsure what to do about gas on Lap 184 and making a late call. Busch was too far along to make pit road.

“I, in my own mind, was like, there’s no way you can come to pit road and just throw away your day, at that point in the race,” he said. “I was just like, why not take the chance?

“He said, ‘Pit! Pit! Pit!’ I was like, it’s a good thing it’s too late, anyway. I knew I wasn’t going to get it in there, but also, I wouldn’t do that anyway.”

The die was cast. Could Busch make it to the finish?

“I think my stomach was in knots, not as bad as the crew chief there,” owner Richard Childress. “Kyle said, ‘Look, we’ve done made this deal. We’ve done made our decision. Let’s ride it out, no matter what, so they just stayed out. … 

“I was just holding my breath. It wasn’t going to be fun, if we ran out of fuel.”

Busch made it to the finish line at a leisurely speed. Could he have made it at full throttle on a final lap?

We’ll never know, because the Turn 1 turn of events let him let off the gas.

We know what we saw. Busch started to spin out. He got halfway up the track, his car sitting over the finish line and turned back toward the trioval to make show for fans.

Then his wheels stopped.

His car done for the day, Busch climbed out, stood on the window rim and pumped his arms.

That’s drama, Talladega style, and ‘Dega drama never seems to run out of gas.

Cover photo: Kyle Busch celebrates after his car runs out of gas following Sunday’s GEIGO 500 at Talladega Super Speedway. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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