Ryan Blaney Takes Two South Carolina Short Tracks To Victory Lane At Atlanta Motor Speedwayby Hunter Thomas March 21, 2021 0 comments
HAMPTON, Ga. – South Carolina’s Florence Motor Speedway and Greenville-Pickens Speedway will receive a $1,200 donation from Advance Auto Parts thanks to Ryan Blaney’s winning efforts in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Blaney features up to two NASCAR Roots tracks on his Team Penske No. 12 Ford every weekend as part of a unique activation effort by associate sponsor, Advance Auto Parts. The company donates its space on the C-post of the race car to NASCAR-sanctioned tracks to boost the awareness of short track racing and its entitlement of the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. Since Blaney won Sunday’s race, both, Florence Motor Speedway and Greenville-Pickens Speedway will receive a $1,200 donation that can be used for track operations, weekly race winnings or charity.
Kyle Larson dominated Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but Blaney chased the Hendrick Motorsports driver down and took over the lead with only nine laps remaining. The win is the fifth of Blaney’s NASCAR Cup Series career. He becomes the sixth different winner in six races so far this season.
“The 5 (Kyle Larson) was crazy fast there the whole race and then we started closing in,” Blaney said. “Our car got a lot better there. I think towards the end of stage two it was starting to get there and then before that last green flag stop it really came to life and he was starting to struggle getting really free. I don’t know if the track changed or what, but we were just tightening it up all day. I’m happy there were a couple long runs at the end. That’s where our strong suit was and we capitalized on it.”
Larson led 269 laps throughout the afternoon, but he had to settle for a second-place finish after wearing out his tires.
“I don’t know – I think he just got a lot better there that last Stage and it kind of changed up my flow of the race a little bit,” Larson said. “I could get out to such a big lead and then I could take care of my stuff; and run the bottom, where it was maybe slower, but I could take care of my tires. He was fast there and I just wanted to maintain that gap that I had, so I had to run in the faster part of the racetrack and just use my stuff up. And then, he was just a lot better than me there late in the run.”
Alex Bowman finished third, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher, William Byron, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick.
There were 11 leads changes among six drivers. The caution flag flew on five occasions; however, only one yellow was for an accident on the track. On lap 114, contact between Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch, sent Busch’s No. 1 Monster Energy Chevy hard into the outside wall in Turn 1.
“Yeah, I think the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) was the outside-lead car,” Busch said. “The No. 9 (Chase Elliott) kind of checked-up, too. I checked up; the No. 17 (Chris Buescher) hit us from behind. It was just the accordion effect and then I jumped to the middle. I’m like ‘I’m here’; I positioned myself. It wasn’t like I re-arranged my lanes and made another block.
“He didn’t do anything vicious or malicious there. It’s a 500-miler and these are the days that it hurts the worst. This absolutely hurts the worst because we had a top-five, winning, Monster Energy Chevy.”
On Sunday, March 28, the NASCAR Cup Series will return to dirt for the first time in more than 50 years as the series visits Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City Dirt Race. Live coverage of the race will broadcast on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images