The race was one of the cleanest in memory at Talladega and certainly the least dramatic through the first five races of the playoffs. NASCAR’s new Next Gen car developed a rash of problems in the first four playoff races, and Bowman’s concussion seemed to push the drivers to their breaking point.

NASCAR is scheduled to test this week a potential solution to the stiffness of the cars that drivers claim they’ve complained about all through the development of the Next Gen.
That did little to calm the drivers leading into Talladega, one of the most unpredictable and chaotic tracks on the calendar. The drivers certainly could have deliberately taken it easy, but they truly raced.
There were 57 lead changes among 17 drivers, and of the six cautions, only one was for a multicar crash.
“That was a pretty calm Talladega race,” Elliott said. “That’s something different.”

Elliott was fifth on the final restart with two laps remaining and claimed control of the outside lane to stalk leader Ryan Blaney. The 2020 Cup champion surged ahead with a push from Erik Jones on the final lap, threw a block on Blaney’s attempt to reclaim the win and then beat Blaney to the finish line by .046 seconds.
Elliott is the first driver through five playoff races to automatically advance into the next round with a victory, and he reclaimed the lead atop the Cup standings. The first four races were won by drivers not eligible for the championship in a chaotic start to the 10-race postseason