Ryan Blaney Steals Inaugural Charlotte ROVAL Win After Truex And Johnson Crash

by September 30, 2018 0 comments

CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney stole the victory in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after a thrilling final-turn crash between leaders Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson as the checkered flag flew.

Blaney earned the win in the inaugural race for the series on the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway, catapulting his self into the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs. The victory is his second-career win in the series for the driver of the Team Penske No. 12 Menards/Pennzoil Ford.

“We restarted sixth the last one there and got to third with a couple to go,” Blaney said. “I was really just riding third. We were good to go on points and was going to advance to the next round on points no problems. They were so far ahead I wasn’t even really trying and then I saw them kind of close to each other through the oval track in three and four and I was like, ‘Oh, something might happen here.’ And we went down I there and they touched just trying to win the race and I was lucky to sneak through there. That’s not how you really want to win them. I’d rather go out and dominate the race and win by a lap, but you’ve got to take them how you can get them nowadays. We put ourselves in a spot to be there, though.”

Blaney continued and said, “We did a great job all day of winning a stage and putting us in a good spot for points. Things just kind of kept building and building where all of a sudden it’s like, ‘OK, we’re lining up.’ We had to pit early to stay with the 88 and we were kind of 15th or something and it was like, ‘OK, we lined up 15th. OK, we’re sixth. And now we’re third and we’ve got a shot to win this race.’ It just worked out for us.”

With three laps to go, the field restarted and Truex pulled away cleanly with Johnson hunting him down for the lead. A heated battle for the win came down to the final turn, when Johnson felt he could make a winning pass on the frontstretch, but he ultimately took himself out as he went for a spin and collected Truex. Blaney was then able to cruise by the crashing duo and claim the win.

“Last corner desperation behind us, that’s what you get,” Truex said. “I gave him (Jimmie Johnson) the inside lane and he had the run through (turn) four and I was real tight down there. I let him have the inside going down inside coming out of four there to the chicane. He just over-drove it and was never going to make it and used me as brakes and turned us both around. It sucks, we could have raced side-by-side off the last corner for a win and that would have been cool.”

Following the accident, Johnson took blame for the crash that ultimately ended his chances at this year’s championship.

“Unfortunately, down here through the bumps coming into that breaking zone, I just locked up the rears and couldn’t control my car and spun,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think that I initially got into him, but clearly, I did and spun him around. Took myself out of a shot at the championship and obviously affected their day which I feel bad about.”

As Truex and Johnson crashed just feet from the finish line, Jamie McMurray was able to get by to finish second, and Bowyer finished third, earning a spot in the Round of 12.

Alex Bowman finished in fourth and Kurt Busch was fifth in the race. Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano rounded out the top-10.

After a relatively calm first two stages of the race, fuel mileage came into play; however, it was only the calm before the storm. As many teams questioned if they would make it to the end of the 109-lap race without pitting for more fuel, they knew a caution would shake up everything. On lap 103, that race-shattering caution came when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made hard contact with a barrier and sustained significant damage to his No. 17 SunnyD Ford before driving to the garage.

On the wild restart, Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford headed straight for the tire barrier in Turn 1, collecting multiple cars and shaking up the race, as well as those who would advance in the NASCAR Playoffs. Fifteen cars were involved in the massive pile-up.

In the 109-lap event, there were eight cautions for a total of sixteen laps.

The four drivers who failed to advance to the Round of 12 following Sunday’s cutoff race were Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon.

Next weekend, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to a much more familiar setting at the Monster Mile, Dover International Speedway, for the Gander Outdoors 400 on Sunday, October 7. Live coverage will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

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