NASCAR: Tyler Reddick wins at Talladega as Michael McDowell triggers massive crash

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA - APRIL 21: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Jordan Brand Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 21, 2024 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick won Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega after race leader Michael McDowell crashed. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Tyler Reddick seemingly didn't have a chance to win at Talladega coming off Turn 4 on the final lap. But he took the victory in Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race after a massive wreck started just ahead of him.

Reddick got his first win of the season after race leader Michael McDowell started a massive crash when he went spinning off Brad Keselowski's bumper in the tri-oval heading to the finish line. That allowed Reddick to slip past Keselowski and everyone else to get to the finish line first.

Reddick was fifth as the field exited the final corner after McDowell got pushed to the lead by Keselowski. The 2012 Cup Series champ seemingly wanted to get McDowell ahead of the field as much as possible so he could make his own move for the win.

Keselowski went high and McDowell covered the move off Turn 4. When Keselowski went low, McDowell went to cover that too. And that's when chaos ensued. It was a predictable end to a race that hadn't had a big crash until the final lap. Given how NASCAR races unfold at Talladega and Daytona, it was only a matter of time until a massive crash happened — even on the last lap.

Keselowski finished second behind Reddick and Noah Gragson finished third. It'll take NASCAR a while to sort out the finishing order, thanks to the crash. Corey LaJoie finished an unofficial 19th as his car slid across the finish line on its driver's side.

Fuel saving reigns

Teams took their fuel-saving measures to the extreme at Talladega on Sunday.

The season-opening Daytona 500 featured the entire pack running considerably slower than normal at times as teams wanted to save as much fuel as possible. With two pre-planned cautions for stage breaks during each race, teams wanted to minimize their green-flag time on pit road during the first two stages knowing they were going to get guaranteed cautions for the conclusion of the stages.

The easiest way to save fuel is to not run full throttle. And that transpired again Sunday for much of the race as drivers didn’t push to the limit until they absolutely needed to.

Teams were even running half-throttle (or slower) in the final stage. And that presented an opportunity for the Toyota teams. They made a pit stop with less than 40 laps to go in the 188-lap race to top off their fuel tanks.

They knew they weren’t going to lose a lap while pitting under green and they started to quickly make up the time they lost while pitting because they were running at full speed.

It was a strategy that seemed destined to work out under green for all the Toyota teams involved … until it wasn’t. As the teams pushed to the front, Bubba Wallace crashed out with Erik Jones, John Hunter Nemechek and Denny Hamlin.

Reddick was in front of that crash and cycled to the front of the field as the rest of the cars pitted under the ensuing caution.

NASCAR will, however, be very happy to tout that there were a track-record 73 lead changes throughout the race, thanks to the fuel saving. For many, that will be a stat that greatly overexaggerates the excitement of the race.

And it'll be a statistic of no consolation for Kyle Busch. He was caught up in the crash on the final lap and expressed his displeasure after the race.

Erik Jones visits the hospital

Jones was evaluated and released from the infield care center after his wreck and told reporters that he was feeling sore in an interview afterwards. Not long after he left the care center, Jones was taken to a Birmingham-area hospital for evaluation. Jones hit the hardest of anyone in that Toyota wreck as his car went head-on into the outside wall.

His Legacy Motor Club team said in a statement late Sunday night that Jones had been evaluated and released from the hospital and was headed back to North Carolina.

Michael Jordan in victory lane

23XI Racing co-owner Michael Jordan was in attendance on Sunday and got to head to victory lane, thanks to Reddick's win.

Jordan has been a fixture at NASCAR races since he became a team owner ahead of the 2021 season along with Denny Hamlin. The win is just the second for Jordan's Jumpman brand as a sponsor after Kurt Busch's win at Kansas in 2022.

Unofficial race results

1. Tyler Reddick

2. Brad Keselowski

3. Noah Gragson

4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

5. Alex Bowman

6. Anthony Alfredo

7. William Byron

8. Todd Gilliland

9. Daniel Hemric

10. Harrison Burton

11. Martin Truex Jr.

12. Chase Briscoe

13. Ross Chastain

14. Ryan Preece

15. Chase Elliott

16. Josh Berry

17. Carson Hocever

18. Corey LaJoie

19. Joey Logano

20. Ryan Blaney

21. Kyle Larson

22. Ty Gibbs

23. Austin Cindric

24. Cody Ware

25. Chris Buescher

26. Daniel Suarez

27. Kyle Busch

28. Shane van Gisbergen

29. Zane Smith

30. Austin Dillon

31. Michael McDowell

32. BJ McLeod

33. John Hunter Nemechek

34. Justin Haley

35. Erik Jones

36. Bubba Wallace

37. Denny Hamlin

38. Christopher Bell