VIDEO: Alex Bowman and Joey Logano trigger playoff altering NASCAR Cup crash at Talladega
Both the driver and spotter of the Hendrick No. 88 took responsibility for the incident
A multi-car crash with playoff implications erupted on Lap 107 on Monday in the rain-delayed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
It began when leader Alex Bowman drifted in front of Joey Logano and triggered a seven-car crash that included several fringe playoff contenders. All told, the crash issued significant but not fatal damage to Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and eliminated Bowman from the race.
Both Bowman and Elliott entered the race on the bubble to advance into the next round with just one race remaining afterwards to get into a transfer position. That race will take place on Sunday at Kansas Speedway. The melee also eliminated Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson from the race.
Larson had already advanced into the next round by virtue of a victory last weekend at Dove International Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. was also involved in the crash but entered the race with a comfortable playoff margin. He was able to resume with significant damage.
Elliott finished eighth but still left with a considerable playoff deficit.
5. Kyle Busch +41
6. Kevin Harvick +36
7. Brad Keselowski +20
8. Joey Logano +18
9. Alex Bowman -18
10. Chase Elliott -22
11. Clint Bowyer -24
12. William Byron -27
Bowman took responsibility for the crash, misjudging Logano’s speed and closing rate. But Bowman’s spotter insisted that he take blame for it instead.
“I just misjudged what kind of run the 22 was going to have there,” Bowman said. “That’s on me. These cars are tough to see behind and I didn’t do a good job of that. It’s what happens here and it’s part of restrictor plate racing.”
Bowman said stage points, nearing the end of stage 2, were just important enough to ramp aggression over.
“The points are so important,” Bowman said. “I just didn’t realize how fast Joey was coming. I didn’t realize how far out I was and that’s on me.”
Johnson said he saw Bowman get punted onto the apron and new the field was going to be in trouble once the No. 88 transitioned back up the racing surface.
“It is what it is,” Johnson said. “The 88 was really far down in the apron in Turn 3 and knew we were going to have a problem when he merged back up in front of us. It’s just part of plate racing.”
The near-entirety of Larson’s front end was sawed-off his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. He saw the 88 turned sideways in front of the field and had nowhere to go.
“I just saw a little bit of smoke. I was in the top lane just hoping to get through it and it all happened quick,” Larson said. “I saw the No. 88’s door numbers and I got into it. Yeah, that was a huge hit on my part. Thankfully, I’m OK and we’ll move onto next week and try to get a run at Kansas.”