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Race report

NASCAR Cup Talladega: Blaney beats Harvick in photo finish

Team Penske Ford Mustang driver Ryan Blaney beat Kevin Harvick in a photo finish for an important NASCAR Cup playoff victory at Talladega Superspeedway, before the outgoing veteran was disqualified.

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang in victory lane

As Sunday’s race wound to a finish, Blaney and Harvick found themselves swapping pushes and the lead.

With two of 188 laps remaining, Stewart-Haas driver Harvick – looking for his first win in his last full-time season – appeared to have control of the race but saw Blaney edge past him for the lead thanks to help from Riley Herbst.

Blaney and Harvick raced side-by-side for virtually the entire final lap but, as a wreck erupted behind them on the frontstretch, Blaney nipped ahead of Harvick’s #4 Ford by 0.012 seconds to earn his second win of the 2023 season.

The victory sends Blaney into the semi-final round of the playoffs regardless of his finish in next weekend’s race at the Charlotte Roval.

Harvick's car then failed post-race inspection after officials discovered unsecured windshield fasteners, which meant an unsecured windshield.

The 2014 Cup champion was duly disqualified from the final superspeedway appearance of his career, losing all stage points earned in the race and being demoted to 38th in the running order. He had already been eliminated from the playoffs after the round of 16 concluded at Bristol.

William Byron therefore inherited second, ahead of Denny Hamlin, Corey LaJoie and Austin Cindric. 

Justin Haley, Chase Elliott, Ryan Preece, Herbst and Daniel Suarez completed the top 10.

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang and Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing, Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang and Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing, Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

The four drivers lowest in the points without a win and therefore now most in danger of being eliminated from the playoffs with one race remaining in this round are Kyle Busch, Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick.

Blaney had earlier shown encouraging Talladega form by taking the Stage 1 win under caution as Chastain made contact with Busch and then slammed the wall on the final of 60 laps. The incident appeared to be triggered when Ricky Stenhouse Jr ran out of fuel and slowed dramatically.

Byron ended up second, Larson third, Elliott fourth and Alex Bowman rounded out the top five.

Brad Keselowski then held off a late charge from Byron to take the Stage 2 win by 0.07s. Joey Logano was third, Austin Dillon fourth and Elliott fifth.

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all the lead-lap cars pitted with Logano first off pit road, but there was drama further back as Ty Gibbs drove off with his gas can still attached to his #54 Toyota and it caught fire after it dropped on pit road, dropping him to the rear of the field for the restart.

Exiting Turn 4 and coming down the frontstretch on lap 162, Keselowski got into the back of Carson Hocevar and turned him into the wall, which triggered a multi-car wreck that also collected Dillon, Chase Briscoe and Gibbs.

NASCAR was forced to red flag the race for nearly 10 minutes to clean the track of debris and repair an area of the SAFER barrier in the trioval.

All of the lead-lap cars pitted with Aric Almirola first off pit road. He led Harvick and Bowman when the race resumed with 20 laps to go.

Bowman led Blaney and Almirola on a restart with 13 laps remaining following a caution for debris in the racing groove on the backstretch.

Harvick then got a push into the lead from Blaney with 10 laps to go and the two engaged in a nip-and-tuck battle to the flag, with Blaney ultimately prevailing.

NASCAR Cup Talladega race result:

 
 
       
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Driver # Manufacturer Laps Time Interval Pits Points Retirement
1 United States R. Blaney Team Penske 12 Ford 188 3:07'25.181   19 50  
2 United States K. Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 4 Ford 188 +0.012 0.012 9 38  
3 United States W. Byron Hendrick Motorsports 24 Chevrolet 188 +0.061 0.049 8 52  
4 United States D. Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 11 Toyota 188 +0.177 0.116 10 33  
5 United States C. Lajoie Spire Motorsports 7 Chevrolet 188 +0.234 0.057 10 32  
6 United States A. Cindric Team Penske 2 Ford 188 +0.339 0.105 10 36  
7 United States J. Haley Kaulig Racing 31 Chevrolet 188 +0.340 0.001 8 34  
8 United States C. Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 9 Chevrolet 188 +0.395 0.055 7 42  
9 United States R. Preece Stewart-Haas Racing 41 Ford 188 +0.427 0.032 9 29  
10 United States R. Herbst Front Row Motorsports 36 Ford 188 +0.441 0.014 8    
11 Mexico D. Suarez TrackHouse Racing 99 Chevrolet 188 +0.449 0.008 8 31  
12
C. Smith Kaulig Racing
13 Chevrolet 188 +0.479 0.030 8    
13 United States T. Gilliland Front Row Motorsports 38 Ford 188 +0.499 0.020 9 24  
14 United States C. Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing 14 Ford 188 +0.527 0.028 14 26  
15 United States C. Bell Joe Gibbs Racing 20 Toyota 188 +0.527 0.000 9 22  
16 United States K. Larson Hendrick Motorsports 5 Chevrolet 188 +0.528 0.001 7 33  
17 United States T. Reddick 23XI Racing 45 Toyota 188 +0.609 0.081 8 21  
18 United States A. Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing 10 Ford 188 +0.636 0.027 9 19  
19 United States M. Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing 19 Toyota 188 +0.686 0.050 9 18  
20 United States C. Buescher RFK Racing 17 Ford 188 +0.689 0.003 10 17  
21 United States A. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing 16 Chevrolet 188 +0.742 0.053 10 16  
22 United States M. McDowell Front Row Motorsports 34 Ford 188 +0.790 0.048 9 15  
23 United States R. Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing 47 Chevrolet 188 +0.825 0.035 9 14  
24 United States B. Wallace 23XI Racing 23 Toyota 188 +0.860 0.035 14 13  
25 United States J. Logano Team Penske 22 Ford 188 +0.882 0.022 8 22  
26 United States K. Busch Richard Childress Racing 8 Chevrolet 188 +0.954 0.072 8 11  
27 United States E. Jones Legacy Motor Club 43 Chevrolet 188 +1.126 0.172 10 10  
28 United States T. Dillon Spire Motorsports 77 Chevrolet 188 +1.134 0.008 10 11  
29 United States A. Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 48 Chevrolet 188 +1.499 0.365 8 14  
30 United States B. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports 78 Chevrolet 187 +1 Lap 1 Lap 10    
31 United States B. Poole Rick Ware Racing 15 Ford 186 +2 Laps 1 Lap 9    
32 United States H. Burton Wood Brothers Racing 21 Ford 175 +13 Laps 11 Laps 11 5 Suspension
33 United States B. Keselowski RFK Racing 6 Ford 161 +27 Laps 14 Laps 7 14 Accident
34 United States A. Dillon Richard Childress Racing 3 Chevrolet 161 +27 Laps 0.509 8 10 Accident
35
T. Gibbs Joe Gibbs Racing
54 Toyota 161 +27 Laps 0.347 7 2 Accident
36
C. Hocevar Legacy Motor Club
42 Chevrolet 161 +27 Laps 0.427 7   Accident
37 United States J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing 51 Ford 83 +105 Laps 78 Laps 9   Fuel pump
38 United States R. Chastain TrackHouse Racing 1 Chevrolet 59 +129 Laps 24 Laps 4 1 Accident

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