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OBSERVATIONS: Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway

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The NASCAR XFINITY Series has put on some of the best shows over the past couple of weeks, and the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Although having a reputation for tearing up a whole bunch of equipment at the race’s conclusion, this year did not see a repeat of that as everybody managed to hold on to their cars. That said, it wasn’t boring by any means either with a classic battle between Spencer Gallagher and Tyler Reddick for the top spot. One ill-timed block by Reddick was all that Gallagher needed to get by, and score the win.

Notably, Gallagher has only led a single lap in the XFINITY Series to date – the last lap that won him the race at Talladega, giving GMS Racing their first win as an organization. It’s no secret that the driver of the No. 23 Chevrolet struggled last year, but this season has seen him run up front on a weekly basis, and he could easily turn what some may call a lucky win into a championship challenge.

RELATED: Mitchell Bruer recently detailed the turnaround for Gallagher 

On the flip side, Reddick will chalk this up to another race in where one decision kept the No. 9 out of victory lane, something that has seemed to be a common theme since his triumph at Daytona International Speedway. But his loss for JR Motorsports isn’t the focus, but rather his teammates’ days. 

Elliott Sadler had once again put himself in a position to win on a restrictor plate track, but a penalty for speeding on pit road had him restarting deep in the field late. The infraction is widely debatable, as he said he only sped to avoid the spinning John Hunter Nemechek. NASCAR has allowed drivers to speed through pit lane previously when avoiding an incident, but supposedly this one didn’t fall under that category. JR Motorsports’ problems did not end there as Justin Allgaier had to make a late-race pit stop after running out of fuel.

However, the team managed to rebound in stellar style, with both drivers charging through the field to score a pair of top-fives, with Sadler taking home the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus for the second straight week in a row. The charge by the pair was certainly fascinating to watch, whether running the high-line three-wide, to dipping down low at the last minute. One more lap with the momentum they had on their side, compared to the others being shaken up, and there may have been a different driver in victory lane. The way they were able to rebound, though, is why they have consistently led the series standings over the past couple of years, including a championship with William Byron in 2017. 

It would’ve also been interesting to see what Daniel Hemric would’ve been able to do if he was in the thick of the action late as he ran up front through the event until a tire issue in the late stages. They say tires aren’t important at restrictor plate tracks, but trying to run on the same right-side rubber all event didn’t pay off.

So far at Talladega Superspeedway, there have been two races – the ARCA Racing Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Even with debate surrounding the rules for ARCA in finishing under green conditions, both events have produced exciting finishes with battles right down to the checkered flag. Hopefully the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series doesn’t disappoint on Sunday. 



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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.