No. 12 Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 2nd
Finish: 1st (Fourth career NASCAR Cup Series win)
Laps Completed: 191/191
Laps Led: 63
Point Standings (Behind First): 3rd (-25)
Ryan Blaney picked up his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series victory – and second-consecutive win at Talladega Superspeedway – on Monday afternoon. Blaney led 10 times for a race-high 63 laps in the No. 12 Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang. The margin of victory was .007 of a second (the same margin of victory when he beat Ryan Newman in the fall of 2019).
Blaney started 12th by the random draw and working with fellow Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski worked his way to third by the lap 25 competition caution. After restarting fourth he would remain inside the top five until a lap 57 red flag for rain. Stage 1 would finish under the yellow flag with Blaney scoring a sixth-place finish.
Blaney restarted in the second position for Stage 2. He would eventually work his way to the lead the first time on lap 65 and lead seven-times over the next 53 laps. He would just barely miss out on the Stage 2 victory, coming home in the second position.
Blaney began the final stage of the 500-mile event in the 14th position. He would manage to work his way back to the lead on lap 132 before a caution on lap 143 brought the leaders to pit road. The Todd Gordon-led crew took right side tires and fuel under the caution and came back in on lap 144 top-off the fuel tank.
When the race resumed, Blaney would ride just outside the top-10 while saving fuel in the lead pack. With less than 10 laps to go he would make his charge to the front with fellow Ford driver Aric Almirola, regaining the lead on lap 185. On the final restart he managed hold off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to score the victory.
Blaney now sits third in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, 25 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
Quote: “I just kind of blocked, just trying to block the best we could. Ride the top, ride the bottom. The 20 got to my outside and I tried to go up there to slow him down, I hate that I hit him, but just kind of trying to beat and bang to the line and things like that. We just edged it out, but I am really proud of this whole Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang team. It’s been a cool year so far and I’m really excited to get our first win of the year at a cool place.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!