On the final lap of Stage 2 in Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, Aric Almirola tried to give Ryan Reed a push from behind and instead ended up sending Reed’s No. 16 Ford into the outside wall, collecting the No. 62 Chevrolet of Brendan Gaughan in the process.
That sent several cars behind the lead pack scattering every which way, with the cars of pole-sitter Blake Koch, Cole Custer Chris Cockrum and Scott Lagasse Jr. all suffering major damage. Seven cars were involved in all.
Reed’s car was destroyed, while Almirola, who won Stage 1 of the Sparks Energy 300, escaped relatively unscathed and took the blame for causing the incident.
“Ah, I’m sorry. I was trying to give him a push,” Almirola said over his team radio.
Reed accepted the apology, but obviously remained frustrated by what transpired after the over-aggressive push from Almirola, a full-time Monster Energy Cup driver who only occasionally races with Reed and the rest of the XFINITY Series regulars.
“I’m not frustrated that he’s in the series because I support Cup guys racing against us,” Reed said. “We learn from them and there are a lot of great things about it, and I actually think a lot of Aric. I have a lot of respect for him as a driver and as a person, but that just wasn’t cool.
“All he had to do was back off a little bit. He just got so aggressive with that push and then didn’t hit us square. He hit us off to the right side and when that happened the car was out from underneath me before I knew it.”
Gaughan told FOX Sports it was merely a byproduct of restictor-plate racing.
“We were in the front. I didn’t like what I saw, so we bailed out just in time to miss the (earlier) wreck with the people who were driving just over their head,” Gaughan said. “And then in the end here, we were running for the stage win with our (Richard Childress Racing) teammate Ty Dillon. We were in the right spot and had gotten ourselves back up there.
“But that’s restrictor-plate racing. Great race. Great racetrack, a fun place to be. I love being here — but that’s just the ills of restrictor plates. Sometimes it’s out of your control.”
Like Gaughan, Lagasse’s day was ended by the accident. He was involved in both this incident and one earlier in which nine drivers were involved in an accident with five laps left in Stage 1 (see video below).