Talladega Produced an Exciting Finish and Something That Hadn’t Ever Happened in NASCAR Cup Series History

Talladega was the third superspeedway race (including Atlanta) of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. By most accounts, the Next Gen car has more than delivered on the big tracks. 

The race on the 2.66-mile Alabama circuit was just the latest and concluded in a wild finish with multiple cars contending for the victory, and Ross Chastain seemingly coming out of nowhere to win. While the Trackhouse Racing driver’s second triumph of the season was a huge win for the second-year organization, it was also a history-making moment in NASCAR.  

Ross Chastain wins in exciting Talladega finish

Ross Chastain has always been known for his aggressive driving style. He took it to a new level on Sunday at Talladega early in the first stage when going a lap down he decided to stay in the middle of the track, forcing the two lines of fast-approaching cars to split and go around. That parting of the sea of cars proved prophetic.

The watermelon farmer found himself in third position behind Erik Jones and Kyle Larson, heading into the final lap. As the race came down to the final turns, Kurt Busch was the first to jump out of line from behind Chastain to start a second line up top to make a move for the lead.  

In the final sprint to the finish line, Larson tried to pass Jones on the outside, which the leader blocked, slowing his progress just enough for Chastain to maintain his line down low and take the checkered flag first. 

Talladega and Bristol races make Cup Series history

As the cars made their way around Talladega for a final time, Fox’s Mike Joy noted an interesting statistic on how 29 times the race had been decided by a last-lap pass. It happened again on Sunday as Chastain made the pass for the win and excitedly said: “Holy Cow! We didn’t do anything.” He had won the race and led only the final lap. 

Kyle Busch said the exact same thing the week before after winning at Bristol. That victory fell into his lap on the last lap when Chase Briscoe wrecked the leader Tyler Reddick, knocking both drivers out of contention and allowing the Joe Gibbs Racing driver to sneak by for the win. Busch led only the final lap.

According to a tweet by The Third Turn, it is the first time in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series that race winners in back-to-back events led only the final lap. 

Final 63 laps were caution-free

When history looks back on the 2022 season and the debut of the Next Gen car, the first 10 races will be viewed as a (watermelon) smashing success. Most of the races have included a lot of passing, numerous lead changes, and phenomenal finishes. Talladega provided all of those on Sunday.

It also produced another interesting stat. The race ended with 63 green flag laps, which is the most consecutive green flag laps to end a superspeedway race since the 2004 Pepsi 400 at Daytona (80 laps). 

It’s a testament to the drivers and the cars, which have proven to be durable, where even solid contact doesn’t automatically end in a crash taking out multiple cars. Sunday proved that and again showed after NASCAR hyped the Next Gen car for years, the car has delivered time and time again and is generating stats that back it up.  

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