Michigan NASCAR: Blaney vaults to victory after late restart push

Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney made it a seventh straight victory for Ford at Michigan International Speedway, taking his second NASCAR Cup victory of the year over William Byron.

Michigan NASCAR: Blaney vaults to victory after late restart push

Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet racer Byron led the way on a restart with eight of 200 laps remaining and Blaney was the first car to pick the inside lane on the restart.

When the race went green, Kyle Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota gave Blaney a huge push that helped to shoot him past Byron and into a big lead entering Turn 1.

Blaney then deftly held off repeated charges from Byron and polesitter Kyle Larson (Hendrick) on the final two laps to claim victory by just 0.077 seconds, the closest finish at the track since the advent of electronic scoring in NASCAR.

It marks the first time that Blaney, a full-time Cup Series driver since 2016, has scored more than one race win in a season.

“We got a great push from (Busch) on the restart and were able to get clear there,” Blaney said.

“Michigan, it’s a matter of running pretty much wide-open and playing the air game. I hate that we have to race that way but I got the run and it worked out for us.

“We weren’t great to start the day off but we kept working and working and got a lot better.

“It really was push on the restart – that was the whole thing. I really appreciate Kyle for pushing me through there.”

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

Busch, who easily grabbed the stage two win thanks to a two-tyre green-flag pit stop, would slip to seventh at the finish as Larson took third ahead of Kurt Busch (Chip Ganassi Chevrolet) and Denny Hamlin (JGR Toyota).

Larson, who had finished second to Chase Elliott in the first stage, led the way when the final stage of the race returned to green on lap 127.

NASCAR displayed a caution on lap 180 with Byron leading from Larson, Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Blaney as a light rain began falling on the track in Turn 1.

Several cars elected to pit but Byron remained on the track and in the lead when the race returned to green on lap 187.

A multi-car accident resulting from contact between Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano in Turns 3 and 4, also collecting Christopher Bell, Truex, Ryan Newman and Michael McDowell, then brought out another caution.

The race returned to green with eight laps to go and Byron still in the lead, followed by Hamlin and Larson. Kyle Busch gave Blaney a huge shove on the restart to send him into the lead.

Matt DiBenedetto finished sixth, while Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr completed the top 10.

Keselowski was involved in one of the race's other dramatic incidents at the finish of stage two, when he hooked Austin Dillon hard into the wall crossing the line.

Kevin Harvick’s 14th-place finish was good enough to lock him into the 16-driver playoff field. One spot in the field will be open entering next weekend’s regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway.

Race results - 200 laps

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Time Gap
1 12 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 2:48'27.571  
2 24 United States William Byron Chevrolet 2:48'27.648 0.077
3 5 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 2:48'27.780 0.209
4 1 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 2:48'28.065 0.494
5 11 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 2:48'28.142 0.571
6 21 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 2:48'28.659 1.088
7 18 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 2:48'28.769 1.198
8 9 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 2:48'28.939 1.368
9 2 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 2:48'29.138 1.567
10 19 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 2:48'29.910 2.339
11 14 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 2:48'30.070 2.499
12 47 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 2:48'30.287 2.716
13 20 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 2:48'30.513 2.942
14 4 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 2:48'31.132 3.561
15 17 United States Chris Buescher Ford 2:48'31.711 4.140
16 48 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 2:48'31.821 4.250
17 10 United States Aric Almirola Ford 2:48'31.850 4.279
18 43 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 2:48'31.962 4.391
19 23 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 2:48'32.137 4.566
20 34 United States Michael McDowell Ford 2:48'32.413 4.842
21 37 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 2:48'32.968 5.397
22 99 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 2:48'33.490 5.919
23 41 United States Cole Custer Ford 2:48'33.503 5.932
24 6 United States Ryan Newman Ford 2:48'36.238 8.667
25 77 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 2:48'40.295 12.724
26 7 Josh Berry Chevrolet 2:48'47.345 19.774
27 51 United States Cody Ware Chevrolet 2:48'40.480 1 Lap
28 78 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 2:48'43.260 2 Laps
29 8 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 2:49'07.009 2 Laps
30 00 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 2:48'46.631 4 Laps
31 52 United States Josh Bilicki Ford 2:48'50.355 5 Laps
32 53 United States Garrett Smithley Ford 2:48'49.269 6 Laps
33 22 United States Joey Logano Ford 2:36'21.511 12 Laps
34 38 Anthony Alfredo Ford 2:48'47.130 22 Laps
35 42 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 2:48'46.826 48 Laps
36 3 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 1:35'30.111 80 Laps
37 15 United States Joey Gase Chevrolet 24'48.480 171 Laps

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