NASCAR: Post-race Talladega decision creates controversy

Talladega, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Talladega, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

NASCAR’s decision to change the results after Sunday’s Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway left some bettors unhappy.

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway ended under caution following a multi-car crash triggered by race leader Bubba Wallace attempting to block a run from Ryan Blaney.

With Kyle Busch moving ahead of Blaney before the caution flag flew, he was scored as the race leader and came around the four-turn, 2.66-mile (4.281-kilometer) high-banked Lincoln, Alabama oval to win the GEICO 500, marking his first superspeedway win in a decade and a half.

Given the fact that there is often confusion as to who is running where when a caution flag flies, especially in a pack-style superspeedway race on the final lap, NASCAR doesn’t always get the results right the first time, which is understandable.

First come the unofficial results, and those should be taken with a grain of salt in this type of race. As such, NASCAR quickly made changes to those. A number of positions in the top five and top 10 were inaccurate on Sunday, but NASCAR corrected them.

Most notably, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe dropped from third place to fourth, with Chris Buescher being promoted to third. Additionally, Front Row Motorsports’ Todd Gilliland lost what would have been a career-high-tying seventh place finish and dropped to 10th.

However, several hours after those corrections were made and NASCAR had shared the results, NASCAR made a number of other changes.

Teams have the right to question positions up until 20 minutes after a race ends, and NASCAR reserves the right to make further changes beyond that, if they determine that additional changes need to be made after video review.

In total, 12 more drivers saw their finishing positions altered (nearly one-third of the field), with five moving up and seven dropping back. Multiple drivers moved multiple spots, with one moving up five and one dropping back three.

The changes inherently impacted the point standings, with each position being worth one extra point. They also impacted the sportsbooks and sports bettors.

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The changes have caused somewhat of an unrest among gamblers, as some were deemed to have lost their bets despite the fact that they had the official results correct.

It ultimately all depends on the sportsbook. Most will specify which results count in terms of payouts, whether they be the results posted right as the race ends, the results upon further review, or the results after post-race inspection.

This is not the first time that there has been betting controversy surrounding which results are used.

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Some sportsbooks did not credit those who bet on Chase Elliott to win at Pocono Raceway last year because Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag, only to be disqualified after the race. Others didn’t credit those who bet on Hamlin, since Elliott was the official winner.

It’s a dangerous game to play, and NASCAR fans should be wary of the fine print.

And beyond that, “race winner” is far from the only available betting category when it comes to a lot of sportsbooks.

For example, when Brad Keselowski was disqualified from fourth place at Martinsville Speedway last year, that too was a nightmare for some bettors. Elliott was promoted from 11th to 10th as a result, but not everyone who bet on him to finish in the top 10 was credit as having won their bet.

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Of course, there are some sportsbooks that will simply grant a refund in the event of a late change, usually in the form of site credit.

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But if you bet on a driver to finish in the top 10, and he finishes in the top 10, chances are, you’re hoping for more than a refund.