Ryan Blaney Edges Ricky Stenhouse Jr. At Talladega As Field Crashes Across Finish Lineby Hunter Thomas June 23, 2020 0 comments
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Ryan Blaney edged Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by 0.007 seconds to win the GEICO 500 on Sunday as the lead pack crashed across the finish line at Talladega Superspeedway.
On the final lap, Kevin Harvick led the field down the backstretch, but with momentum, Blaney made a move to the inside of Harvick in Turn 3 and took over the lead. With drafting help from Erik Jones, Stenhouse also passed Harvick and moved into position behind Blaney. Coming to the checkered flag, Jones tried his best to get around Blaney but came up short as he crashed across the finish line. Aric Almirola spun across the nose of Stenhouse, and Blaney captured the checked flag by a mere 0.007 seconds.
“I just kind of blocked, just trying to block the best we good,” Blaney said. “Ride the top, ride the bottom. The 20 (Erik Jones) got to my outside and I tried to go up there to slow him down and I’m not sure, I don’t know three-wide, 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’m really proud of this whole Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang team. It’s been a cool year so far and I’m really excited to get our first win of the year at a cool place.”
Blaney entered the weekend coming off a third-place effort at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He’s also the defending winner of last year’s October race at Talladega. Sunday’s win marks Blaney’s fourth career NASCAR Cup Series victory, and it’s the ninth Talladega victory for Team Penske. The 26-year-old led the field on 10 occasions for a race high of 63 laps in the No. 12 Menards/Sylvania Ford.
“The whole year really, but the past month and a half has been really good for us,” Blaney said. “We’ve had some really good runs. We’ve had really fast cars, had a chance to win I feel like every race the last month and a half. It just really hasn’t fallen our way. We just haven’t been in the right place at the right time or not been quite fast enough. Coming here, you just don’t really know your outcome. You don’t really know how things are going to be.”
Stenhouse’s runner-up finish marks only his third top-five effort of the season. The Mississippi native historically runs well at Talladega, and the strong finish came at a good time for the JTG Daugherty Racing team as they finished 21st at Martinsville Speedway and 20th at Homestead-Miami Speedway
“Yeah, we were so close there at the end,” Stenhouse. “It was hard all day trying to break up the Penske cars and then there at the end, all the blue ovals were together. But, our No. 47 NOS Energy Drink Camaro ZL1 1LE was really fast all day. The boys brought a good one. I thought we had a shot there at the end, it just didn’t work out.”
Almirola spun across the line in third. Denny Hamlin finished fourth, and Jones crossed across the finish line and fifth. Chris Buescher, Alex Bowman, John Hunter Nemechek, Kurt Busch and Harvick rounded out the top-10.
Throughout the afternoon, there were 56 lead changes among 19 drivers.
There were also eight cautions for 33 laps.
Harvick currently leads Joey Logano by 23 points in the NASCAR Cup Series standings.
This weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series will compete in a doubleheader at Pocono Raceway. On Saturday, June 27, the Pocono Organics 325 in partnership with Rodale Institute will broadcast live at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX. Sunday’s Pocono 350 will broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) at 4 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images