TALLADEGA, Ala. – The 1000Bulbs.com 500 may have resumed fairly uneventfully on Monday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway, but coming down to the end of stage two, calamity finally struck.
The oft-talked-about ‘Big One’ reared its ugly head on lap 107, after Alex Bowman got a big shove out in front of the field down the backstretch by teammate Chase Elliott and then had nowhere to hide when momentum started building behind him.
As the pack barreled toward turn three, Joey Logano got a huge tandem shove from Clint Bowyer and closed rapidly on Bowman’s leading No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Logano turned his Ford Mustang to the left to attempt to steamroll past Bowman, but Bowman tried to throw the block and defend.
However, Bowman’s move came too late, Logano hit Bowman’s rear bumper and the contact sent Bowman spinning out of control – and eventually into the oncoming pack in the third-turn banking.
Collecting two of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates – Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott – as well as Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and others, in all, 10 cars were involved in the chaos that ensued.
The crash ended the day for Bowman, Johnson and Larson, who took a hefty shot into Bowman’s car when it slid up the banking into his path.
After being released from the infield care center, Bowman shouldered the blame for the incident.
“I just misjudged how much of a run the 22 (Logano) had there, so that’s on me,” said Bowman. “These cars are tough to see out of, and I didn’t do a good job of it. Probably shouldn’t have attempted to block that, but that’s plate racing. That’s just what happens here, unfortunately, and it’s a bummer that we were in it.
“The spoilers are so big now, that even though they’re clear, the car shakes so much that you really can’t see,” Bowman added. “My mirror’s super shaky and trying to look through a thing of Lexan is tough. I just didn’t do a very good job of judging it right there. That’s on me.
Bowman was quick to add that business was picking up because of the bonus points on the line at the end of the second stage, making every position critical for all of the playoff drivers.
“Just coming down to the end of the stage, stage points are so important, and I just really didn’t realize how fast he was coming,” explained Bowman. “After watching the video, I didn’t realize how far out I had gotten and how fast he was coming. Like I said, I just misjudged it there.”
In Larson’s case, his win last week at Dover Int’l Speedway proves critical, as it advances him on to the next round of the playoffs despite his involvement in Monday’s first big crash.
“I had gotten up to the third lane there at some point down the backstretch, and saw a little bit of smoke at the end of the straightaway, and I knew a wreck was coming and was just trying to hope that a lane opened up,” Larson explained. “The 88 … you know, I just saw his door numbers and clobbered him there. That hit hurt, but thankfully I’m alright and thankfully we got the win last week and didn’t really have to worry about points racing.
“Our McDonald’s Chevy was good. The Chevys did a really good job working well together, running up front and things like that. It was just the wrong place at the wrong time for our car in that one.”
Leaving Talladega, Bowman will likely be in a must-win situation if he hopes to advance to the semi-final round of the playoffs.
He’s not worried though. The Tucson, Ariz., native already has a plan.
“We’re going to go (to Kansas), lead practice, qualify on the pole and win the race. It’s simple as that.”