NASCAR Playoffs at Talladega LIVE updates: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the pole –

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is currently underway at Talladega Superspeedway for a critical race in the playoffs Round of 12. Anything can happen when ‘the big one’ strikes on this restrictor-plate track, meaning any driver — excluding Charlotte winner Martin Truex Jr. — can see their championship hopes come to a screeching halt within seconds.

Below we have live highlights, stage results and more as the action unfolds Sunday.

If the live blog below is not loading properly for you, please click here to view it. 

Stage 1: Keselowski climbs to second in the standings

Brad Keselowski won Stage 1 after a one-lap shootout with Penske teammate Joey Logano. Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jimmie Johnson were among the other Round of 12 drivers to accumulate points.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. immediately surrendered the lead to Logano on the first lap. Logano and the other Fords came down pit road for fuel-only on lap 14 hoping for a green flag run through the end of the stage, however when the Chevrolets decided to pit, the first caution came out.

It appeared that NASCAR Playoffs contender Jamie McMurray got under the No. 77 of Erik Jones while trying to pit, sending the No. 1 into a tailspin up the track. It was not the result McMurray was hoping for as he tries to advance to the Round of 8. Jeffrey Earnhardt and 66-year-old Mark Thompson were both involved and saw their days come to an end as well.

The caution flew as Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson were coming in for stops. Unfortunately for those drivers, pit road closed before they entered meaning they had to serve penalties. Junior, Elliott and Larson were running in the front of the pack before the yellow came out.

While the penalties proved to be a setback for the Chevrolets, no one suffered a worse result than Jamie McMurray, who plunged to last place in the playoff points after bringing his car to the garage. McMurray earned just one point and zero playoff points in the contest and will most likely need to win at Kansas in order to advance to the Round of 8.

It appeared that the Ford drivers’ gamble from earlier in the race paid off as Logano and four other Fords restarted from the front of the pack. Chevrolet driver Paul Menard tapped the wall and brought out the caution with five laps to go in the stage. 

Kyle Busch, Larson and Dale Jr. used the opportunity to pit before the stage ended as they were not in a position to earn any points. The move put Busch and Larson in prime position for Stage 2, but backfired for Junior, who was penalized for speeding.

Here’s how the top 10 finished in Stage 1:

Alabama 500 Stage 1 results

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Ryan Blaney
  4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  5. Jimmie Johnson
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Michael McDowell
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. Trevor Bayne
  10. Kasey Kahne

BOLD – indicates NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12 driver

Here’s a look at the Monster Energy NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12 standings after Stage 1:



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