This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
Talladega Superspeedway lived up to its reputation as one of NASCAR's wildest tracks Sunday. The YellaWood 500 was an unpredictable and chaotic race with 13 cautions and many more storylines. Denny Hamlin barely edged out Matt DiBenedetto at the finish after multiple overtime restart attempts, which earned him the win and a spot alongside Kurt Busch in the next round of playoff eliminations. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver spent most of the afternoon being careful at the back of the field before the opportunity arose for him to make an attempt for the win. That gamble paid off in a wild final lap when the top three cars ahead of him collided and he slipped past to cross the finish line first.
The crazy race left its impression on the playoff battle, too. With just one more race to set the field of eight playoff contenders still eligible to win the season championship Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola sit below the cut line with Joey Logano holding a 21-point advantage over Dillon. All of those drivers encountered some kind of trouble in the race and will now have to approach this week's cutoff race with points being the objective.
Denny Hamlin – While Hamlin had speed to race at the front early on, he drifted to the back and simply stayed out of trouble for the vast majority of the race. Even with less than 10 scheduled laps remaining he was still