McDowell Spins, Reddick Wins In Talladega Thriller


Tyler Reddick celebrates winning Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Nigel Kinrade/Toyota Racing photo)

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Tyler Reddick wasn’t even leading Sunday’s GEICO 500 coming off the final corner, but as it often does at Talladega Superspeedway, the tri-oval proved to be the difference-maker.

As Michael McDowell was turned off the nose of Brad Keselowski at the center of the frontstretch, Reddick flared to Keselowski’s outside and avoided the chaos that broke out behind him, keeping his foot on the gas pedal until the caution lights flickered on moments before the checkered flag.

It was a move that gave Reddick and 23XI Racing a dramatic victory at the biggest track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit, with team co-owner Michael Jordan in attendance for a win for the first time.

McDowell seemed to have the race well in hand, almost effortlessly controlling both lanes over the final 25 laps despite on-and-off pressure from the trio of Toyotas – led by Reddick – on his outside.

The polesitter’s No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang got clear of the pack exiting turn four thanks to Keselowski’s drafting help, and it appeared that the two Blue Oval drivers were set to settle the race between one another.

But as Keselowski went high and McDowell came up to block, it opened up the lane for Keselowski to shoot back to the low side. McDowell’s second attempt at defending the lead opened Pandora’s Box.

Keselowski got just far enough forward that as McDowell came across, he was tagged by the right-front fender of the No. 6, sending the No. 34 spinning up the track and then down into traffic as cars steamed toward the finish line.

While that melee caused the pack to fly apart, Reddick side-drafted to Keselowski’s outside and had enough momentum to pass the 2012 Cup Series champion for his sixth career win and first of the year.


FOX Sports' Jamie Little watches on as a victorious Tyler Reddick climbs the frontstretch fencing at Talladega Superspeedway. (Nigel Kinrade/Toyota Racing photo)

“This is incredible,” said a breathless Reddick after celebrating by climbing the catchfence next to the flagstand. “Everyone that’s a part of our Jordan Brand Toyota Camry XSE worked really hard all day long.

“We were able to fight at the end and defend our track position,” the Corning, Calif., native continued. “That was chaos, but that’s Talladega for you. I give so much credit to Ty Gibbs and Martin Truex because it was just us [three] Toyotas left … and they pushed me with everything they had.

“Without those pushes, we don’t win this race.”

Sunday was not only a breakthrough for Reddick, who hadn’t won since Kansas Speedway last fall, it was the first of 23XI Racing’s six career Cup Series triumphs that Jordan – a six-time NBA champion – was able to celebrate in person with his drivers and team members.

“Denny keeps saying that I’m bad luck whenever I come to the racetrack,” Jordan quipped after the race.
“Today we were able to prove him wrong.

“He did a good job by wrecking so we could get up front [with the No. 45],” added the former Chicago Bulls kingpin in regard to Hamlin, who was – in fact – part of the crash that paved Reddick’s path to victory lane.

It was on lap 133, after the seven remaining Toyotas pitted for fuel to the finish and formed up in a single-file draft, that a bad push from John Hunter Nemechek to the bumper of Bubba Wallace caused a sudden stack-up in turn three.

Wallace ended up hooking Erik Jones’ No. 43 hard into the outside wall, in a crash eerily similar to the end of the 2001 Daytona 500, with Nemechek collecting Hamlin behind the initial impact.

That brought out the last of just four caution flags on the afternoon, sending the field down pit road for a final round of pit stops and setting up a 27-lap run to the finish that was frenetic and furious at the front.

With two relatively equal lanes allowing for few drivers behind the lead duo to make any moves, McDowell and Reddick combined to lead every lap after the final restart, trading jabs multiple times down the stretch in an effort to be out front when it mattered most.

Though McDowell’s Front Row Motorsports Ford was strongest in turns one and two and down the backstretch, Reddick could get a better push from turn four through the tri-oval that allowed him to stick right to the side of the leader lap after lap.

In fact, Reddick’s runs were such that he actually led the final six laps at the start-finish line, despite McDowell’s best efforts.

However, it was the last time around that broke open the floodgates, with Reddick and McDowell virtually even off turn two thanks to drafting help from Martin Truex Jr. and Keselowski, respectively.


Tyler Reddick (45) leads the field as a crash breaks out behind him Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. (David Rosenblum/LAT for Toyota Racing photo)

The low lane stayed tight together entering the third turn, with McDowell, Keselowski, and Noah Gragson all getting clear of the Toyotas off the final corner.

Then came the last-gasp blocks that led to McDowell’s heartbreak and Reddick’s celebration.

Unable to limp his car across the finish line, McDowell was credited with a 31st-place finish, despite leading seven times Sunday for a race-high 36 laps.

It was a dejecting end to a day that featured a pole position start and, perhaps, the fastest car on the property for much of the race’s second half.

“It’s hard. We did a good job getting out front, controlling the race, and putting ourselves in position,” said McDowell. “Brad is so good at [Talladega] and he drug back and I drug back as quick as I could. I was able to block that first run that he made, but then when I came down for the second one … he was just to my bumper and barely, barely got me.

“It’s unfortunate. I hate it for Brad, and I hate it for everybody that was behind that. It’s just racing on the last lap at Talladega,” McDowell added. “We’re all going for it at that point. Unfortunately, I just made a bad move there to put us in that spot.”

Meanwhile, Keselowski came home as the runner-up for the second straight week, .208 seconds back of Reddick. Gragson crossed the line third, followed by the Chevrolets of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Alex Bowman.

Anthony Alfredo slipped through the final-lap carnage to secure a career-best sixth in the Beard Motorsports No. 62, following a third-place effort in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series undercard.

William Byron, Todd Gilliland, Daniel Hemric, and Harrison Burton closed the top 10.

Team Penske drivers Austin Cindric and Joey Logano won stage one and stage two, respectively, while the only other caution for cause was on lap 133 when contact from Justin Haley turned Christopher Bell into the outside wall in turn three – near the same spot that Jones crashed some 23 laps later.

Twenty-three different drivers traded the lead 73 times Sunday, with the 500-mile distance completed in three hours, 13 minutes, and 29 seconds at an average speed of 155.977 mph.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action Sunday, April 28 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway with the running of the Wurth 400. Truex is the defending winner at the one-mile concrete oval.

Newsletter Banner

The ultimate entertainment platform for race fans and collectors to collect, buy, sell, and trade digital MP4 collectible racing cards. RFD is designed to give all racers in all series a chance to promote their brand and connect with fans in the digital world


For Race Face Digital merchandise please visit our online store!

Don't forget to follow Race Face Digital on social media.

About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.