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April 21, 2024

Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, Erik Jones out after late Talladega pileup

TALLADEGA, Ala. — A multicar crash at Talladega Superspeedway eliminated half of Toyota’s fleet from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race.

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While drafting in a seven-car pack made exclusively of Camrys, Erik Jones was sent spinning nose-first into the SAFER barrier in Turn 3 at Lap 156 after slight contact from behind by Bubba Wallace. The crash also collected Jones’ Legacy Motor Club teammate John Hunter Nemechek as well as Denny Hamlin, a Joe Gibbs Racing driver and co-owner of Wallace’s 23XI Racing Toyota.

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The seven Toyotas had just pitted at Lap 151, earlier than the other manufacturers’ cars in an effort to leap-frog the Fords and Chevrolets. But errant pushes thwarted that particular plan, sending four of their vehicles to the garage instead.

“We were all pushing really hard to keep our line going,” Wallace told FOX Sports. “We had a plan and just didn’t execute it as well as we should. Hate it for our Leidos team. Look forward to running these places and then you just get trapped in somebody else’s mess, but I hate it. It doesn’t make us look good at all. But all in all, we’ll just reset and go to Dover. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re fine. Just frustrating.”

Hamlin believed the Toyotas had plenty of speed and strong enough fuel mileage to last in the final 37-lap run to the checkered flag. That proved true with Tyler Reddick’s charge to a wild victory, but ultimately without five other Toyotas. Christopher Bell, another JGR competitor, crashed out at Lap 133.

“I thought we were plenty fast enough …” Hamlin said. “As soon as everyone pitted it, we were gonna cycle to the front, is what the goal was.”

All drivers were evaluated and released from the infield care center. However, Jones later returned to the care center and was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.