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Reddick steals the win at Talladega

PAUL NEWBERRY Associated Press

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Tyler Reddick stole a win at Talladega Superspeedway when front-runner Michael McDowell, who was weaving up and down the track trying to block Brad Keselowski, crashed Sunday with the finish in sight.

It was a typical Talladega finish – and the start of a raucous celebration on pit road with Reddick’s team owner, Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.

“This is like a playoff game in the NBA,” Jordan said in Victory Lane. “I’m so ecstatic.”

McDowell, the pole sitter, was in a position to give Ford a much-needed first win of the year, but his chaotic attempts to block Keselowski, another Ford driver, cost them both.

McDowell spun, Keselowski had to check and Reddick sped past to win by 0.166 seconds.

A pile of cars behind them was also knocked out. Corey LaJoie’s No. 7 machine slid across the finish line on its side, pinned to the wall in front of the massive grandstands.

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Reddick got out of car No. 45 and sped over the fence like Spider-Man.

“That was crazy, fans,” he shouted. “Chaos. Typical Talladega.”

Keselowski settled for second and again fell short of his first victory since 2021 during this 4.26-mile trioval in eastern Alabama.

“We were going to make a move and Michael covered it,” Keselowski said. “We went the other way and had nowhere to go when Michael came back. It’s just the way these things go.

Reddick’s win made up for a failed strategy that eliminated a number of Toyota contenders, including team co-owner Denny Hamlin.

All three Toyota teams pitted together with 37 laps to go, with a strategy that would have allowed them to push the pace on the rest of the fuel-efficient field – with the idea of ​​driving all the way to the front for the checkered flag.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep their cars straight.

Just four laps later, as the Toyota train moved single file at a blistering pace, chasing the lead group, John Hunter Nemechek appeared to get into the bumper of Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 machine, which knocked off Erik Jones and crushed him. hard in the outer wall.

Nemechek then slid down the track and also eliminated Hamlin.

“We had a plan,” Wallace said. “We just didn’t execute as well as we should have. I hate it. It doesn’t make us look good at all.”

Jones took the brunt of the impact, a crash that would have been much worse without the sturdy cars and foam barriers.

“I’m a little sore, but I’m fine,” Jones said after leaving the field care center. “If you want to be stupid, you have to be tough.”

But in the end it was a Toyota driver who celebrated.