Sunday wasn't the kind of day Ross Chastain and Brad Keselowski were looking for.
Both drivers are in the fight in the NASCAR playoffs round of 12, but both took massive hits to their chances after getting caught up in incidents during the YellaWood 500 at Talladega.
Chastain was the first driver knocked out of the race, after getting caught up in an incident on the final lap of stage one. Chastain lost control of his No. 1 Chevy after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran out of fuel.
A winner at Talladega in 2022, Chastain tried to shoot a gap that wasn't there while Kyle Busch was also trying to get out from behind the ailing 47-car. Chastain got clipped, spun and crashed into the wall, ending his day.
As for Keselowski, his day was going very well when he was knocked out of the race. That included a stage two win for the No. 6 team. With less than 30 laps remaining in the race, trouble befell Keselowski while pushing Carson Hocevar in the No. 42.
The push on Hocevar looked to be in the wrong place, as he was turned sideways and collected several cars, including Keselowski. Keselowski later took the blame for what happened, referring to the incident as a push and shove gone wrong.
Brad Keselowski on his push of Carson Hocevar that triggered a multi-car wreck at Talladega: pic.twitter.com/EhpIAptvbf
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 1, 2023
"It was just one of them kind of Talladega deals...." Keselowski said. "We got shuffled there a few laps before the incident and were just trying to claw our way back in the third lane. The 42 (Hocevar) pulled out in front of me and I gave him a push and it kind of instantly spun out on him. It's unfortunate, it's just kinda part of the deal....Any time you spin somebody out when you push them too hard but you don't know until you push somebody how good their car is going to be."
Keselowski finds himself only two points above the cutoff heading to the Charlotte Roval. He will have to max out his opportunities in a race that is unpredictable.
As for Chastain, he will need a lot to go right in Charlotte as he is 10 points below the cutline. When asked what he would have to do at the Roval by NBC's Dave Burns, his answer was simple.
Ross Chastain entered Talladega 12 points above the cut line.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 1, 2023
"Lefts and Rights and living my dream," Chastain said. "So, whatever our team, whatever we bring next week, we will put our best foot forward and... As long as I'm getting to drive these rocket ships Team Trackhouse gives me and living my dream, we will keep fighting."
The playoff cutoff race on the Charlotte Roval will be something to watch, especially with so many desperate drivers trying to make the round of eight.
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