Contact between Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ryan Blaney triggered the first wreck of the GEICO 500 at Talladega, which Wallace suggested was the result of a faster closing rate due to the new rules package and larger rear spoiler.
Drafting through the tri-oval toward Turn 1, Wallace made contact with the rear bumper of Blaney’s Ford, getting the No. 12 out of shape. Although he tried to take evasive action to the left, Wallace lost control and his No. 43 Chevrolet shot back to the right and into traffic.
“I should have been wrecked about two laps ago; kept leaving the middle open with Denny [Hamlin] behind me, so I appreciate him cutting me some breaks,” Wallace said after leaving the infield care center. “Got another big run in the same spot on the 12 and knew I was clear on the bottom but I had too much of a run to keep pushing Ryan, so I don’t know if I crossed his bumper and got him sideways.
“To stay off of him I went to the bottom and as soon as I went to stop crashing the apron it just unloaded and spun out. People don’t see how on edge we are with this package. We got a decent taste of it in practice and kind of knew. I wasn’t trying to be aggressive at all, but I didn’t want to wreck the 12, I would have if I stayed in line. It’s just how big the runs are going to be. I just hate we’re in the first one and wrecked a bunch of guys’ day, but it was literally trying to stay off the guy and get to the bottom where I knew I was safe and it came around.”
Also collected in the accident were Michael McDowell, Kevin Harvick, Matt Tifft, and Denny Hamlin. While Hamlin was able to continue on, McDowell, Harvick, and Tifft retired from the race with Wallace.
“I’m not really sure what happened, I didn’t see a lot of it,” said McDowell. “Looked like the 43 [Wallace] was being real aggressive and making stupid moves at the beginning of the race. The Love’s Travel Stops Mustang was really fast and that is pretty early in the race to be making dumb moves like that.”
As Harvick was leaving the infield care center he told reporters of the accident, “A lot of people that are way above their head and I think that obviously proved it.”