The crapshoot nature of Talladega is that it often presents an opportunity for smaller teams that avoid accidents a shot at a season-best finish.
Such was the case once again on Sunday, even though there wasn’t the much-loathed and much-feared “big one” that often seems to rear its ugly head.
Landon Cassill finished fourth, which was a breakout story on its own.
Meanwhile in sixth, Travis Kvapil posted a rare result while in the No. 33 Circle Sport Racing Chevrolet for Joe Falk. Kvapil’s season-best finish was 25th at Pocono in August driving for Frank Stoddard’s FAS Lane Racing in the No. 32 Ford. It marked his first top-10 result since coming home eighth at the 2012 fall Talladega race driving for BK Racing.
Each of those who finished 14th through 16th, Reed Sorenson, Cole Whitt and Michael Waltrip, posted their season-best results as well. Sorenson’s previous best this year was 16th at the Daytona 500, Whitt’s 18th at Fontana, and Waltrip’s 19th at the summer Daytona race.
Of the other part-time or otherwise “underdog” teams and drivers, Ryan Blaney finished 22nd in his second Cup start for Team Penske after starting fourth and running up front for a good portion of the race, Josh Wise was 28th as the Phil Parsons Racing No. 98 Ford was once again adorned in Dogecoin colors, usual Talladega surprises Front Row Motorsports were only 29th and 30th (David Gilliland and David Ragan), Trevor Bayne 32nd, Michael Annett 37th, Mike Wallace 38th, Michael McDowell 41st and the BK Racing teammates (JJ Yeley, Alex Bowman) 42nd and 43rd.
In his likely final start, two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte came home one lap down in 33rd.