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Nick DeGroot

Keselowski and Chastain face playoff setback with Talladega wrecks

Chastain was the first driver to fall out of the race, finding calamity on the final lap of the opening stage.

When Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran out of fuel, Chastain tried to shoot the gap up the middle in a four-wide situation. At the same time, Kyle Busch was trying to get out from behind the slowing No. 47 machine of Stenhouse. Busch and Chastain made contact, sending the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet spinning. He was unable to continue.

Keselowski's day was going far better, at least for a while. He won Stage 2 and collected ten valuable points. That proved to be vital later on, as he crashed out of the race with just under 30 laps to go. He tried to push Carson Hocevar from the third lane, who lost control. Several other cars were collected, with Keselowski getting clipped by a spinning Austin Dillon and nearly went airborne. He finished 33rd.

When the checkered flag waved and Ryan Blaney secured his place in the Round of 8 with a win, Keselowski found himself now resting on the bubble. He went from eight points above the cut-line to just two with Tyler Reddick now the first driver out.

“It was just one of those Talladega pushing and shoving deals," said Keselowski. "I just gave a really light push to the 42 car [Hocevar] and it turned around on him, so unfortunate for us. We were able to win the second stage and were in a pretty good position there. It sucks. It sucks for everybody. I hate it for him. I hate it for us, but it is what it is.”

When asked about his emotions following the incident, the 2012 NASCAR Cup champion said: “It’s not ideal, but I’m not devastated. I’d be devastated if we ran terrible and wrecked, but we ran good and I’m proud of our team for putting the effort we need to run up front and lead laps and win the second stage.  It just didn’t come together at the end.”

Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing, Worldwide Express Chevrolet Camaro (Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images)

Chastain, who was +12pts at the start of the day, is now ten points behind Keselowski and the final transfer spot. He also trails the 23XI Racing drivers of Reddick (-8pts) and Bubba Wallace (-1pt).

"It’s just the way it goes," said Chastain. "Nothing personal with it. I don’t take any of this personally here. I could have stayed on the bottom a few laps earlier probably and would have been safer. I just had a couple of cars land in my lap there and I went for the gap. Obviously I wish I would have lifted now, but I’ll study that and be better next time.”

He later added: “I just saw someone slow and tagging the fence, and obviously with them being that much slower, I should have just stayed in behind him. Four-wide wasn’t the right call. I saw a hole and just tried to slide through there. I wish I wouldn’t have.”

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