|Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Dent Wizard Ford, takes the checkered flag ahead of Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Wyndham Rewards Ford, to win|
For Ryan Blaney, it was worth the wait.
Blaney muscled his way around Ryan Newman moments after Newman had taken the lead on the final lap, and edged out the veteran driver for the win by inches at the finish line at Talladega Superspeedway on Monday.
The race had been postponed after 57 laps on Sunday due to rain, and was completed Monday afternoon.
“I have been coming here ever since I was really young and watched my dad run here a lot and watched him run pretty good here a lot," Blaney said. “I got to drive for the Wood Brothers here. It is a cool feeling."
It’s the third career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory for Blaney. More importantly, it locks him into the Round of 8 of the Playoffs after coming into the day needing a win to make the cut in next weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway.
Blaney had taken the lead just before a huge crash with just a few laps left brought out the final caution and the red flag. When the race went back under green with two laps remaining, Blaney surged back out front. With half a lap to go, Newman had a huge run on the outside line with help from behind from Denny Hamlin. As the field roared into turn 3, Newman surged to the lead.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]But Blaney battled back to the inside as they field raced into the tri-oval, setting up a drag race to the finish line. The two bounced off each other racing to the checkered flag, with Blaney getting the win by about a foot.
“That big push that Newman and the 11 (Hamlin) got I knew I wasn’t going to be able to block it," Blaney said. “They were coming so fast and they wanted to split me. I wanted to stay to the bottom and kind of pulled the 11 off the 6 (Newman) and then had a big enough run to get to the six. We kind of hit above the line and that pushed me below the line. That is a big judgment call. You never know. I definitely wasn’t going to go below the line before we made contact."
The win came one day after Blaney spun on pit road during the first segment of the race, putting him in a catch up position when the race resumed on Monday.
“Yeah, it was an amazing effort the last two days to be honest with you," he said. “We spun out early yesterday and missed some big ones today. We were able to weave our way through. I can’t thank Aric Almirola enough for helping me out there at the end."
Newman said it was disappointing not to win after being so close.
“I’ve been that close here before," he said. “Quite a few years I’ve tried, but just crazy racing and proud to get our Wyndham Rewards Ford a good finish. I’m disappointed obviously we didn’t win – to be that close. It’s part of racing. I’ve always said you’ve got to lose some that way before you can win some that way, and I guess our wins are coming."
Coming to the checkered flag, Chris Buescher and Parker Kligerman crashed behind the leaders, sending the rest of the field scrambling. It was the last of a flurry of crashes on the day.
The first major incident came on lap 106. Alex Bowman was leading when Joey Logano got a huge run down the backstretch. Bowman attempted to throw a block, with Logano making contact with him. That sent Bowman spinning, gathering up Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Larson, among others.
|Race winner Ryan Blaney|
“After watching it, I just didn’t realize how fast the 22 (Logano) was coming there," Bowman said after seeing a replay of the accident. “I probably shouldn’t have even attempted to block that. He was a solid chunk faster than us, so that’s on me. It’s part of Talladega and superspeedway racing. It’s really unfortunate for our team. I apologize to the other guys that got taken out in that."
The second big crash broke out on lap 163 when William Byron spun on the backstretch off the front bumper of Kurt Busch. Byron spun up into the pack, gathering up Logano, almost sending Logano's Ford airborne. Matt Crafton, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Preece and Joey Gase were also involved. Logano's car was heavily damaged, but his team made repairs and he was able to continue.
Byron said he wasn’t sure why the push from Kurt Busch didn’t work.
“Obviously, our noses are pointed and it just jacked me right up and turned me around," he said. “I have to look at it. Yeah, it just turned me to the inside first. I don’t know what to do different there to get the push better. Just unfortunate for us. We had a really good run going. I felt like we were going to at least finish pretty solid. Our car was good, just trying to bide our time. Just unfortunate, for sure."
The final shunt occurred on lap 182, when Kyle Busch spun off the front bumper of his brother, Kurt Busch, at the front of the field at the end of the backstretch. Kyle Busch’s car then tagged Brendan Gaughan, sending his car for a complete flip in the air, landing on all four wheels.
“Listen, I spent three years in off-road racing and we flip flop," Gaughan said. “The easiest thing you can do is go upside down, because nothing hits hard. So that’s the nicest thing about it. I haven’t even seen it, but Brad (Keselowski) was pushing the crap out of me and I loved it."
Several other cars were gathered up, including David Ragan, Matt DiBenedetto, Daniel Hemric, Chris Buescher and Preece.
The crash sidelined both title contenders Kyle Busch and Keselowski, and left the race under the red flag to allow for clean up.
Hamlin finished in third, with Aric Almirola in fourth and Michael McDowell in fifth.
Austin Dillon finished sixth, followed by Corey LaJoie.
Dawsonville, Georgia’s Chase Elliott came back from the lap 106 crash to finish eighth with a heavily damaged race car.
"We had our ups and downs for sure today," said Elliott. “Got caught up in that crash but my guys did a nice job of putting it back together as best we could. Just head out West to Kansas now and try to get a win out there. That's about all we can do now.
|It was that close|
"You have to have the mindset to go out there and control what we can control and do everything we can to get a win. That's all we can do."
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Ty Dillon rounded out the top five.
Logano soldiered home to an 11th place finish, and unofficially finds himself in eighth in the points standings, 18 points above the cutoff line. Alex Bowman sits in ninth. Elliott, Clint Bowyer and Byron round out the top 12, and likely will need a win next weekend at Kansas Speedway to make the Round of 8.
Select Crash Quotes (Most of Hendrick Team wrecked out)
BRENDAN GAUGHAN, NO. 62
HOW CLOSE WERE YOU TO MAYBE PICKING UP THE WIN HERE TODAY?
“Listen, I spent three years in off-road racing and we flip flop. The easiest thing you can do is go upside down, because nothing hits hard. So that’s the nicest thing about it. I haven’t even seen it, but Brad (Keselowski) was pushing the crap out of me and I loved it. But man, the Beard Oil Distributing Chevy, we ran a great strategy. Darren Shaw, Ron Lewis our spotter, everybody…..it was awesome. The 62 was in front for a split second. I was just so proud and thank you to ECR, Richard Childress, Chevrolet and to Darren and Ron and all the guys on this team. The Beard family, I love them. Mother, its okay, its just a flip and it didn’t hurt, I promise."
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]YOUR BACK IS OKAY FROM COMING DOWN THAT HARD?
“Yeah, no, it’s okay because you are still going 200 mph that way. So it never just drops out of the sky. It was okay, it was just one easy, quick flip and we put it down. The only thing you worry about then is somebody hitting you. That is what you don’t want and that is where the fear comes in. Other than that, I am fine and like I said, some people would argue that I have anything up there that’s going to hurt. Thank you to Chevrolet and thank you to the Beard family, love you guys, and yes, I will see you at the Daytona 500. Mom, sorry."
KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1
"I was just trying to make the middle lane work and all hell broke loose. I was having a lot of fun out there. Just trying to hold it steady and gain some points. I don't even know who is left. It was pretty wild. These cars are so unstable in those big packs pushing hard. It just takes the smallest little mistake.
"I had a great Monster Energy Chevrolet. Thanks to Ganassi and all my guys for preparing a great race car. We just didn't get the finish we wanted today."
IT WAS GETTING CRAZY THERE AT THE END. WAS THIS SORT OF INEVITABLE AND WHAT DID YOU SEE?
“I was just trying to make the middle lane work with my little brother and all hell broke loose. Everybody was pushing hard, trying to draft and getting themselves in position. Man, there are wrecked cars everywhere. We were having fun with our Monster Energy Chevy and we were trying to bring it home."
WHEN YOU WERE TRYING TO MOVE TO THIS LINE AND THAT LINE, HOW CRAZY WAS IT FEELING OUT THERE FOR YOU?
“I was just trying to hold the pretty wheel, keep it smooth and give the guarantee from behind. The guys were pushing good. It just shows that our No. 1 was stable and we could lead."
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1
WHY DO YOU THINK THAT PUSH FROM KURT BUSCH DIDN’T WORK?
“I don’t really know. Obviously, our noses are pointed and it just jacked me right up and turned me around. I have to look at it. Yeah, it just turned me to the inside first. I don’t know what to do different there to get the push better. Just unfortunate for us. We had a really good run going. I felt like we were going to at least finish pretty solid. Our car was good, just trying to bide our time. Just unfortunate, for sure."
ERIK JONES, No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What happened to take you out of the race?
“It looks like the 1 (Kurt Busch) turned the 24 (William Byron) and kind of caused that wreck, so it’s unfortunate. We had a really fast car today. It’s one of the best superspeedway cars we’ve brought as far as single car and pack speed. It’s disappointing. The DeWalt Camry was definitely a contender, I thought, for a win today. We battled back from a lap down and got right back to the front. It’s unfortunate. We’ve just been on a bad streak and we haven’t been able to shake it. Hopefully next week at Kansas – it’s been a good track to us – we can get things back going again."
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 NATIONWIDE / AMAZON ECHO AUTO CAMARO ZL1
"I haven't completely seen the replay. But my guess is that I threw a block I shouldn't have thrown a block. I got shoved way out there. I knew the No. 22 (Joey Logano) was coming and I just tried to move down just a little bit. As soon as he touched me, it just turned it sideways. They just had a bigger run than I realized. I should have let them go and shouldn't have thrown a block. I apologize to all the cars that got torn up, that's on me. Talladega happens. I hate it for all of our sponsors."
GIVE US A SENSE OF HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO JUDGE THE SPEED AS A LINE GETS MOVING.
"The spoilers are so big now, that even though they are clear, the cars shake so much you really can't see. At least I couldn't. My mirrors are super shaky and trying to look through a thing of lexan is tough. Just didn't do a very good job of judging it and that's on me."
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE?
“After watching it, I just didn’t realize how fast the 22 (Joey Logano) was coming there. I probably shouldn’t have even attempted to block that. He was a solid chunk faster than us, so that’s on me. It’s part of Talladega and superspeedway racing. It’s really unfortunate for our team. I apologize to the other guys that got taken out in that."
UP UNTIL THAT POINT, WAS IT AS NERVE-RACKING FOR YOU AS IT WAS FOR US WATCHING?
“Not really. It was pretty calm. The car was driving really good. Everything was going as it needed to go for us, I just misjudged that one."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
"That's just plate racing. It is what it is. I saw the No. 88 (Alex Bowman) really far down on the apron coming into turn three, and knew there was going to be a problem when he merged up back in front of us. It is just plate racing. Really proud of my guys. I had a very fast Ally Chevrolet today. I was doing my best to help my teammates there and had a good time. Unfortunately, a short day for us."
“I was just drafting and looking through the window like we do on the back straightaway and I noticed out of the left side of the windshield that the 88 was down there sideways by himself. So, something happened up there that got him pitched out of the line and unfortunately just slid right back up in front of myself and Chase (Elliott). I hope I did not knock Chase into the 88, and I feel like fortunately I may have turned him away from it and down the track. Hopefully he can still get some points here. It’s just one of those plate racing incidents and I hate it for Alex but a few people made it through from the Hendrick side of things in having a couple cars still in the race. But my Ally Chevrolet was great and I was just being a great ally to my friends out there and we had a really fast race car."
REGARDING WHAT IT WAS LIKE WORKING TOGETHER AS A MANUFACTURER AND WHERE WAS THE BEST ENERGY.
“We have worked together well over the years, and I think we are just getting better at it is all what it’s about. For myself, in not having the Playoff pressure, it was nice to have a purpose and it was nice to be out there helping my teammates try and collect points and do what they could. So, all in all a good day, just a short one."
|1||12||Ryan Blaney (P)||Ford||188||0.000s|
|4||11||Denny Hamlin (P)||Toyota||188||0.061|
|8||9||Chase Elliott (P)||Chevy||188||0.289|
|9||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||Ford||188||0.333|
|11||22||Joey Logano (P)||Ford||188||0.401|
|13||36||Matt Tifft #||Ford||188||0.767|
|15||96||* Parker Kligerman(i)||Toyota||188||7.842|
|17||4||Kevin Harvick (P)||Ford||188||16.604|
|18||47||Ryan Preece #||Chevy||188||49.770|
|19||18||Kyle Busch (P)||Toyota||188||75.313|
|21||8||Daniel Hemric #||Chevy||187||-1|
|22||27||* Reed Sorenson||Chevy||187||-1|
|23||14||Clint Bowyer (P)||Ford||186||-2|
|25||2||Brad Keselowski (P)||Ford||182||-6|
|26||19||Martin Truex Jr (P)||Toyota||182||-6|
|27||62||* Brendan Gaughan(i)||Chevy||181||-7|
|33||24||William Byron (P)||Chevy||162||-26|
|36||66||* Joey Gase(i)||Toyota||161||-27|
|37||88||Alex Bowman (P)||Chevy||106||-82|
|39||42||Kyle Larson (P)||Chevy||106||-82|
# Denotes Rookie
(I) Not Eligible For Points
(*) Required To Qualify On Time
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