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NASCAR Cup: Ryan Blaney gets delayed win at Talladega

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 14: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Dent Wizard Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 14, 2019 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Ryan Blaney locked-up advancement to the third round of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Monday with his first win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. After the first 55-lap stage of the 188-lap 1000Bulbs.com 500 was competed, as scheduled on Sunday, rain came, resulting in a red flag after the completion of lap 57 and the postponement of the remainder of the race until Monday afternoon. After the delay, Blaney beat Ryan Newman to the checkered flag by 0.007 seconds for his first-career top-10 at NASCAR’s biggest oval circuit.

“It means a ton,” Blaney said. “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. I got to drive for the Wood Brothers here. It is a cool feeling. This new infield in this new victory lane. I love coming here, and I love it even more now.”

Denny Hamlin was the only other playoff driver in the top-five at the checkered flag, finishing third behind Blaney and Newman. Other top-five finishers included Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell in third and fourth, respectively.

“I was just trying to play chess out there,” Hamlin said. “I knew my odds and percentages with the wrecks. I knew once my competitors started to fall, there, I knew that I had to be smart. I just knew the end of these races usually end up like a crash-fest, and I was just going to take all the crash positions I could get once I got back on the lead lap. Once I saw that the percentage was better for me to go race up front for the win versus just taking the end of the lead lap, even if we were to crash, I knew it was in my best interest to try to go there at the end, and we almost won it anyway.”

Blaney led a race-high 35 laps, 15 of those coming in the first stage Sunday. After leading on Sunday, though, he spun while attempting to get onto pit road, but his Money went much better. He was the only playoff driver not involved in a caution-causing incident.

“It was an amazing effort the last two days, to be honest with you,” Blaney 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. That big push that Newman and the 11 (Hamlin) got, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to block it. 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 judgement call. You never know. I definitely wasn’t going to go below the line before we made contact. I can’t say enough about this Dent Wizard team. It has been super fun the last couple of days. We are moving on! This is super cool.”

Playoff driver Clint Bowyer won the second stage that ended on lap 110, but on lap 153, he spun and managed to stick his car between the apron and track banking. He went two laps down while trying to get his car unstuck.

The remaining playoff drivers were involved in at least one of three multi-car crashes. The first of those came on lap 107 when Alex Bowman spun from contact with Joey Logano after Bowman’s failed attempt to block Logano to retain the lead. Instead of holding off Logano, Bowman went from the lead to out of the race. Several other drivers were collected.

“I haven’t completely seen the replay, but my guess is that I threw a block when I shouldn’t have thrown a block,” Bowman said. “I got shoved way out there. I knew the No. 22 (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.”

Kyle Larson also retired from the race because of damage from that incident, but as the Dover (Del.) International Speedway winner a week earlier, Larson already had secured his berth in the third round of the playoffs. As a result of their early exits, Bowman wound up 37th and Larson 39th at Talladega.

A spin by one of Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates, William Byron, set off the second big crash of the day on lap 163. The third “big one” came with six laps remaining and led to a red flag for track cleanup after Kyle Busch spun after a bump from Kurt Busch and collected several other drivers.

Byron had a productive Sunday, though. After taking the lead on lap 51, he was up front when the first stage ended on lap 55 for his second-career stage win. The caution at the end of stage one turned into the red flag that remained over the race until Monday afternoon.

Pit road had yet to open during the caution, so the running order for the Monday resumption of the race was the same as the stage-one finishing order. The remainder of the top-10 behind Byron included Logano, Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brad Keselowski, Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Daniel Suarez, Kurt Busch and Blaney.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Matt Crafton was behind the wheel of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford in place of Paul Menard on Monday. Menard completed the first stage Sunday but was sidelined the remainder of the race by an ongoing neck issue. Crafton drove the car to a 16th-place finish.

Only three playoff drivers finished inside the top-10. Joining Blaney and Hamlin was Elliott in eighth. Other top-10 drivers included Austin Dillon in sixth, Corey LaJoie in seventh Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in ninth and Ty Dillon 10th.

Stenhouse was second in the laps-led category after running up front for 32 laps. He was a lap down late in the second stage after missing his pit box during a green-flag cycle of stops, and then, speeding on pit road on his next attempt.

Logano finished 11th. Other playoff-driver results include a 17th for Kevin Harvick, 19th for Kyle Busch, 23rd for Bowyer, 25th for Brad Keselowski, 26th for Martin Truex Jr. and 33rd for Byron.

Below, is the complete finishing order for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway:

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Posted by on October 14, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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