TALLADEGA, Ala. — It was all going along so smoothly. But this is Talladega, and you know nothing ever remains calm here for very long.
The Geico 500 had been running along just fine for the first 160 laps of the 188-lap race. But Ryan Blaney brought out a caution for a small, single-car incident, and then with 20 laps remaining, the Big One made its appearance. AJ Allmendinger turned Chase Elliott, who flipped sideways … which is never the direction you want to be facing at high speed. Logano plowed into Elliott, Elliott took flight, and, well, everything went straight to hell right after that.
Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Austin Dillon, Danica Patrick, and many others were involved in the wreck. All in all, 16 cars of the 39 still running sustained damage, and the race was red-flagged as a result. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were among the few who eluded damage in the pack. Twenty or so laps later, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was in victory lane, notching his first-ever Cup level victory, and Patrick was one of the first to congratulate him.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.