U.S. Markets close in 3 hrs 48 mins

Joey Logano wins at yet another wreck-filled Talladega

Drivers race past Talladega fans during a NASCAR Talladega auto race at Talladega Superspeedway, Sunday, April 29, 2018, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

TALLADEGA, Ala. — “We wrecked. What are you going to do? Typical Talladega.”

Outside the Talladega infield care center, Clint Bowyer was seething, and he wisely — for the sake of his wallet — opted for snippets and sound bites rather than angry monologues. Bowyer’s 14 had just been swept up in a wreck that also collected the first two stage winners, Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard with only a couple dozen laps remaining, and nobody who wrecked out was in a particularly good mood.

Back out on the track, Joey Logano snapped a year-long victory drought, holding off a furious charge by Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Logano led 70 laps, and looked in control throughout as he notched his 19th career victory with his third win at Talladega.

With a restrictor-plate beast like Keselowski — his five wins lead all drivers and rank third all-time at Talladega — out of the picture, that left the door open for Keselowski’s Penske teammate to roar through. Logano started stacking laps early on, and by the end of the race, he and spotter T.J. Majors were crafting a masterpiece.

The final laps of the race demonstrated that when Logano’s on, there’s nobody better in the sport. He held off a charging Harvick low, and then flat-out outran Kurt Busch to the finish. Busch couldn’t quite sync up with Stenhouse to make a run at Logano, and Chase Elliott slipped into third position as the checkered flag waved for yet another top finish without a victory.

“It was an awesome finish,  but I thought two Stewart‑Haas cars running second and third should have been able to pull this off,” Busch said. “Everybody from Chase and Stenhouse, everybody is back there three‑wide ripping and gouging, trying to go hard.  It takes two cars to try to break through the leader.  I’m happy that a Ford won.  [But] it wasn’t the right one.”

“If they got to the outside of me, I was hosed,” Logano said. “I would have gotten passed by the whole train. But once they got picked apart, that was the whole game-changer.”

One key theme of this year’s race: the combination of the new rules package for 2018 that shifted the balance of the car rearward and the reduction in horsepower that came from a smaller restrictor plate implemented in the wake of Jamie McMurray’s Friday practice flip.

“The cars weren’t handling really good, so you had to be very cautious with the runs that you had and where you had them,” Jimmie Johnson said. “I don’t know how that looked to the eyeballs watching from the outside, but inside it seemed like a normal plate race except going 20 mph faster with the lower ride heights.”

“Everybody’s cars were really on the edge so I think that’s why so far we’ve seen a lot of single-file racing,” Larson said. “It’s just because it’s tougher, I think, for anybody to be aggressive.”

“The cars are just pretty unstable, so the racing is just different,” Byron said. “Nobody is going to want to race quite as hard because their stuff is not driving as good to be able to do it.  I feel like people were pretty limited on how their stuff drove.”

As always, the secondary story at Talladega was the wreckage that thinned out the field. Midway through the second stage, Erik Jones set off a wreck that collected reigning champion Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, and others:

(via Fox Sports)

In the race’s closing laps, Johnson got loose and set off a wreck that took out Keselowski, Bowyer, Menard, William Byron, Austin Dillon, AJ Allmendinger and Michael McDowell:

(via Fox)

Even as the usual suspects dueled at the end of the race, there was a bit of poignance in the race’s opening laps. For a moment early in the Geico 500 at Talladega on Sunday, the 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the race, followed by the 24 of Jeff Gordon, the 43 of Richard Petty, and the 9 of Bill Elliott.

Only it wasn’t Earnhardt or Gordon or Petty in those cars, and the Elliott in the 9 wasn’t Bill. Alex Bowman, William Byron, Bubba Wallace and Chase Elliott are the names manning those iconic numbers now, and this year’s Talladega race — the first since Earnhardt retired — showcased the new-look NASCAR on its largest stage. But the youth movement couldn’t quite hold up to the veteran edge of Logano — himself a onetime youthful phenom — and for now, at least, the future remained in the future.

Full results, Geico 500 at Talladega:

1. Joey Logano
2. Kurt Busch
3. Chase Elliott
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
6. David Ragan
7. Aric Almirola
8. Alex Bowman
9. Ryan Newman
10. Daniel Suarez
11. Chris Buescher
12. Jimmie Johnson
13. Kyle Busch
14. Denny Hamlin
15. Ty Dillon
16. Darrell Wallace Jr.
17. Kasey Kahne
18. Ryan Blaney
19. Matt DiBenedetto
20. DJ Kennington
21. Cole Whitt
22. Brendan Gaughan
23. Timothy Peters
24. Gray Gaulding
25. Ross Chastain
26. Martin Truex Jr.
27. Joey Gase
28. Jamie McMurray
29. William Byron
30. Paul Menard
31. Clint Bowyer
32. Michael McDowell
33. Brad Keselowski
34. AJ Allmendinger
35. Austin Dillon
36. Timmy Hill
37. Reed Sorenson
38. Trevor Bayne
39. Erik Jones
40. Kyle Larson

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.