TALLADEGA, AL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney picked up his first win of the season beating Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by a bumper at the rain-delayed Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Blaney and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones made contact on the front stretch, sending Jones into the outside wall as Blaney headed towards the checkered flag.
Inside of Blaney however was JTG Daugherty’s Stenhouse, who was leading hard charge of cars on the inside lane. The pair crossed the Start/Finish line with Blaney prevailing by 0.007-seconds in a photo-finish.
“I just kind of blocked, just trying to block the best we could,” said Blaney. “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.”
Stenhouse finished second and said he did all he could to get to the front.
“The 20 had a good run,” said Stenhouse. “Then they started banging fenders, slowing each other down. I just kept on the throttle, was able to get close to the nose of the 12 there coming across the line. All in all it was a solid day for us.”
Stewart Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola finished third with his rear bumper crossing the Start/Finish line first as he was caught up in the Jones accident.
Denny Hamlin finished fourth followed by Jones who after hitting the wall crossed the line in fifth.
Prior to the race drivers and crew members surrounded Bubba Wallace’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet and pushed it to the front of the starting grid in a show of support after a noose was found in the RPM garage area on Sunday.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the FBI is investigating and that whoever is responsible for the action will be suspended for life from NASCAR.
Martin Truex Jr. leads Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2-3 at Richmond
RICHMOND, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Martin Truex Jr. overcame a first lap penalty for jumping the start of the race and came back to win Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond Raceway.
Truex beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell for the win, which automatically advances Truex to the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs that begins in two weeks at Las Vegas.
“I let the 11 (Hamlin) get a nose out in front of me to get the launch first,” explained Truex about the start of the race. “I wasn’t going to jump him, and then he spun the tires and stopped. What am I supposed to do, stand on the brakes and crash the field behind me?”
Fortunately Truex didn’t crash the field behind him but he was sent to pit road to serve the penalty, which left him the last car in the field.
Hamlin, who led a race-high 197-laps, held on for second place and is also locked into the Round of 12 after his win last weekend at Darlington.
“The whole JGR team had fast cars for all of us today. I really wish we had gotten two in a row, but regardless still a great day for the team,” Hamlin said.
Chase Elliott rallied for a fourth place finish after having losing a lap after trouble in the pits.
A rough pit stop for the No. 9 team of Chase Elliott.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 12, 2021
Joey Logano finished fifth with Kyle Larson in sixth. Larson is also locked into the Round of 12 on points.
Four playoff drivers head into Bristol outside of the Top 12 and need to either win or score a ton of points in order to advance.
Hendrick Motorsports Alex Bowman sits in 12th spot after a 12th place finish at Richmond. Bowman is tied in points with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch but Busch wins the tiebreaker by having the best finish in the round. Tyler Reddick, William Byron and Michael McDowell are also on the outside looking in.
Busch was having a great run and even came off pit road in the lead following the competition caution on lap 32 but disaster struck on lap 42.
Kurt Busch is done for the night.
The #NASCARPlayoffs driver has a flat tire and hits the Turn 1 wall.
TV: NBCSN pic.twitter.com/eh0ZsyFlqn
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 12, 2021
“Something happened in that left rear,” explained Busch. “It let go and it let go of our points and it let go of our whole season right now.”
Ryan Blaney wins NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona; Larson top playoff seed
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney picked up his second straight NASCAR Cup Series victory winning Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Blaney was out front on the last lap when a multi-car crash occurred in the last turn during NASCAR overtime to seal the victory for the driver and No. 12 Ford Mustang crew.
“Cool to get our second win in a row,” said Blaney. “Got a great push by Corey LaJoie. That was the big push that got us ahead to the lead. I think he pushed me so good, I mean, me, Corey and the 4 all got single file. We were able to be ahead there when that last wreck on the backstretch happened.”
LaJoie was one of nine-cars involved in that Turn 3 crash on the final lap. Four of the drivers, Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain, Daniel Suarez and LaJoie, needed a victory to qualify for the Playoffs.
Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick earned the 16th Playoff position, beating out teammate Austin Dillon for the final spot.
Kyle Larson claimed NASCAR’s regular season title based on the strength of his series-leading five victories in 2021.
The back-to-back victories moved Blaney into the second spot in the Playoffs followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch in third and fourth.
2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott is fifth followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman in sixth. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin is seventh and William Byron is eighth. Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski round out the Top 10.
The final six playoff seeds include Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch, JGR’s Christopher Bell, this year’s Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, Stewart Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, Reddick and former Cup Champ Kevin Harvick.
Blaney Grabs Win At Michigan
BROOKLYN, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney led the final eight laps to win Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Blaney took the lead on a restart to pick up his second win of the year and sixth of his career.
“Man, I’m proud of everybody on the 12 team,” said Blaney. “We weren’t great to start the day off. We kept working and working and got a lot better. It’s so cool to get in Victory Lane for Ford here. This is such a huge win for Ford, Penske, Menards, Cardell, Bodyarmor. I can’t thank them enough, what they do. That was cool, man. I’m fired up. I’m fired up.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson finished second and third followed by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch in fourth.
“I had points on my mind a little bit too much,” said Larson. I’m looking in my mirror. I saw the 11 (Denny Hamlin) falling back some. I just didn’t want to screw it up really. I felt like I had to weigh the risk versus reward. I could risk going for the win, not having it work out, end up 30 something and lose the point lead going into Daytona or I could be a little bit more cautious, beat Denny by a couple spots, which is what we did.”
Hamlin finished fifth and trails Larson by 28-points going into NASCAR’s regular season finale, the Coke Zero 400, Saturday August 28th at 7:00 p.m. at Daytona International Speedway.