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Race report

Blaney snatches lead from Larson to win Atlanta NASCAR Cup race

Ryan Blaney snatched the NASCAR Cup victory at Atlanta with eight laps remaining from Kyle Larson, whose tyres ran out of life in the dying stages of the race.

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor

John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

Larson took both stage victories and led a race-high 269 of 325 laps but a 56-lap run on the same set of tyres took them beyond their limits, opening the door to the rapidly chasing Blaney.

With eight laps remaining and as Larson and Blaney both approached the lapped car of Joey Logano, Blaney dove to the inside in Turns 3 and 4 and then pulled up and in front of Larson for the lead.

Blaney’s advantage only grew after that and he eventually held off Larson for his first NASCAR Cup victory of the 2021 season.

Larson had previously taken the lead away from Blaney on lap 237 as the Penske driver took advantage of a caution - caused by Chase Elliott's blown engine at the start of the final stage - to leap ahead of Larson out of the pitlane as the field came in to stop.

With 25 laps to go, Larson’s lead over Blaney remained stable at about 2.3 seconds, but with his tyres beginning to run out of life, Blaney was brought into play.

The Penske driver then charged up to the back of Larson's Hendrick-run Chevrolet, taking the lead and then crossed the line with a two-second lead to secure his first ever Atlanta victory - and his fifth in his Cup Series career.

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor

Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images

Larson kept second place, having dominated both the first and second stages - Blaney nine seconds behind the #5 car at the second green-and-white flag, while Kyle Busch was on the receiving end of Larson's pace after the first stage.

Alex Bowman made it two Hendrick cars in the top three, having started 14th but factoring among the front-runners all race long - running in second towards the end of the second stage before being cleared by Blaney.

Poleman Denny Hamlin collected fourth place, and had led the opening part of the race before a competition caution - called for teams to check tyre wear - tempted the lead runners to pit, which shuffled the Joe Gibbs Racing driver behind Larson.

Hamlin's JGR Toyota stablemate Busch was fifth after finishing second in the first stage, after being forced to recover from a penalty after speeding in the pitlane and being dropped to the back of the field.

Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon was sixth ahead of Chris Buescher, with William Byron eighth ahead of Martin Truex Jr and Kevin Harvick - who rallied from a flat tyre early in the race, which put him a lap down, to finish in the top-10.

Elliott had failed the pre-race inspection and was forced to start from the back having qualified fifth, but produced a strong recovery to factor within the top 10 until his engine failure put him out of the race.

Hamlin retained the lead of the current Cup Series standings, extending his advantage on points as second-placed Brad Keselowski endured a difficult race to finish 28th.

Cla Driver Manufacturer Time Gap
1 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 3:27'41.546  
2 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 3:27'43.629 2.083
3 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 3:27'51.837 10.291
4 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 3:27'53.095 11.549
5 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 3:27'55.902 14.356
6 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 3:27'58.747 17.201
7 United States Chris Buescher Ford 3:27'59.178 17.632
8 United States William Byron Chevrolet 3:28'04.250 22.704
9 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 3:28'04.470 22.924
10 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 3:28'04.679 23.133
11 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 3:28'07.739 26.193
12 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 3:28'08.199 26.653
13 United States Ryan Newman Ford 3:28'12.959 31.413
14 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 3:28'14.695 33.149
15 United States Joey Logano Ford 3:27'44.156 1 Lap
16 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 3:27'46.916 1 Lap
17 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 3:27'47.429 1 Lap
18 United States Cole Custer Ford 3:27'51.248 1 Lap
19 United States Michael McDowell Ford 3:27'58.443 1 Lap
20 United States Aric Almirola Ford 3:28'13.714 1 Lap
21 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 3:27'50.422 2 Laps
22 United States Austin Cindric Ford 3:28'03.677 2 Laps
23 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 3:28'03.777 2 Laps
24 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 3:28'07.346 2 Laps
25 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 3:28'11.147 2 Laps
26 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 3:28'12.835 2 Laps
27 Anthony Alfredo Ford 3:28'14.289 3 Laps
28 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 3:27'44.837 4 Laps
29 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 3:27'41.734 6 Laps
30 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 3:27'53.654 6 Laps
31 United States Cody Ware Chevrolet 3:28'09.483 9 Laps
32 Australia James Davison Chevrolet 3:28'12.480 9 Laps
33 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 3:27'58.645 11 Laps
34 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 3:28'09.874 12 Laps
35 United States Joey Gase Chevrolet 3:28'01.380 17 Laps
36 United States Timmy Hill Ford 3:28'03.532 20 Laps
37 United States Josh Bilicki Ford 3:28'05.860 40 Laps
38 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 2:29'13.554 105 Laps
39 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 1:14'24.651 212 Laps

 

 

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