After standing together behind Bubba Wallace as a sign of unity during emotional pre-race ceremonies, drivers scrambled on the final lap, as Ryan Blaney nipped Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for second and Aric Almirola came across the finish line backward in third in a thrilling overtime finish Monday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Blaney, who won at Talladega last fall, and Erik Jones made contact coming to the finish line as they battled for the win. The contact put Jones up into John Hunter Nemechek‘s car and into the wall. Jones was unofficially credited with fifth place, a spot behind Denny Hamlin.
The race was stopped for 58 minutes, 18 seconds because on rain on Lap 58. Stage 1 ended at Lap 60 under caution. Tyler Reddick scored his first career Cup stage win. Ricky Stenhouse was fifth on the backstretch on the final lap of Stage 2 and nipped Ryan Blaney at the line to win the stage.
After the race, Bubba Wallace walked to the fans in the stands after finishing 14th. He slapped hands with fans.
“This is probably the most badass moment right here,” he told Fox, looking at fans, which included some wearing Black Lives Matter shirts. “It’s been tough. It’s been hectic. … This sport is changing.”
Wallace got emotional when he talked about the pre-race activities with drivers pushing his car to the front of the grid and standing with him for the invocation and national anthem.
“I’m proud to be part of this sport,” he said.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Tyler Reddick
STAGE 2 WINNER: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scored his third top-five finish of the season. He had one top-five result last season. … Chris Buescher placed sixth for his best Talladega finish. … John Hunter Nemechek finished eighth for his best career finish.
NOTABLE:Aric Almirola finished third, marking the eighth consecutive Talladega race he’s placed in the top 10, tying Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the longest such streak at the track.
NEXT: The series heads to Pocono Raceway for a doubleheader. The series races at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday and 4 p.m. ET Sunday.