Ryan Blaney has spent the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season as the forgotten member in Team Penske's powerhouse stable of drivers.
But in Monday's weather-postponed 1000Bulbs.com 500, he stepped from the shadows by winning a wild one at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
"It means a ton," Blaney said. "I have been coming here ever since I was really young and watched my dad run here a lot and watched him run pretty good here a lot. I got to drive for the Wood Brothers here. It is a cool feeling. This new infield in this new victory lane. I love coming here and I love it even more now."
The win was the first of the season for Blaney and his third in the Cup Series. Best of all for the 25-year-old driver is that the victory gives him a berth in the Playoffs Round of 8, which begins in two weeks at Martinsville Speedway.
And it was an exciting win as Blaney crossed the finish line banging doors with Ryan Newman. The margin of victory was .007 seconds.
"Yeah, it was an amazing effort the last two days to be honest with you," Blaney said. "We spun out early yesterday (entering the pits) and missed some big ones today. We were able to weave our way through."
Blaney joined teammates Joey Logano (two wins) and Brad Keselowski (three wins) as a race victor.
Roush Fenway Racing's Newman finished second while playoff contender Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing was third.
"Just close," Newman, whose runner-up finish was his best of the season, said. "We just came up a little bit short. I don't know what else to say. I could have pinched him some more, I probably could have took the air, you could go back and bench race for three weeks from now. But it was a good race until the end."
Rounding out the top five were Aric Almirola of Stewart Haas Racing and Michael McDowell of Front Row Motorsports.
Talladega proved to be a bummer for many of the other 11 drivers still contenting for the championship.
A big wreck with just over two laps remaining in Stage 2 spelled bad news for several of those contenders. Logano hit fellow playoff driver Alex Bowman from behind, sending Bowman across the track and up into the wall.
Bowman's car was demolished. Other championship contenders involved were Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson. All but Bowman and Larson continued, but with varying degrees of damage. Larson suffered the least long-term damage as he won a week ago to nail down a berth in the Round of 8.
Bowman offered a mea culpa. "I threw a block," he said. "I shouldn't have blocked. They (Logano) had a bigger run than I realized. I should have let him go."
A second big wreck -- this one with 26 laps to go in the scheduled 188-lapper -- took a toll on two more playoffs contenders. It occurred when William Byron was bumped sideways and then into the wall. Logano, a three-time winner at Talladega and in position to win again, also was caught up and suffered damage to his Team Penske Ford.
The biggest one occurred with seven laps to go and it too took out championship contenders. Involved were playoffs drivers Kyle Busch, who was racing for the lead, and Brad Keselowski.
The race began Sunday at 2 p.m. as an all-Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet show after that team's Elliott, Bowman, Byron and Jimmie Johnson started from positions 1 through 4, respectively.
Byron was in the lead when racing was stopped with 57 of a scheduled 188 laps complete. The race was in the first stage intermission when rain began to fall on the 2.66-mile track. The red flag quickly waved. The cars were covered on pit road as officials tried to wait out the weather. With Talladega being a track without lights, NASCAR finally decided to move the action to Monday.
The race went green again at 2:15 p.m. ET.
Next up is the playoffs cutdown race at Kansas Speedway.
--Field Level Media
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race - 51st Annual 1000Bulbs.com 500
Sunday, October 13, 2019
1. (9) Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 188.
2. (13) Ryan Newman, Ford, 188.
3. (40) Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 188.
4. (5) Aric Almirola, Ford, 188.
5. (22) Michael McDowell, Ford, 188.
6. (20) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.
7. (33) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 188.
8. (1) Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 188.
9. (7) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 188.
10. (21) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.
11. (10) Joey Logano (P), Ford, 188.
12. (34) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 188.
13. (16) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 188.
14. (25) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 188.
15. (32) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 188.
16. (14) Paul Menard, Ford, 188.
17. (15) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 188.
18. (30) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 188.
19. (26) Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 188.
20. (23) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, Accident, 187.
21. (29) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 187.
22. (38) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 187.
23. (8) Clint Bowyer (P), Ford, 186.
24. (27) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 185.
25. (6) Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, Accident, 182.
26. (18) Martin Truex Jr (P), Toyota, 182.
27. (28) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 181.
28. (24) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, Accident, 181.
29. (17) David Ragan, Ford, Accident, 181.
30. (31) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Accident, 181.
31. (35) Blake Jones, Chevrolet, 179.
32. (19) Daniel Suarez, Ford, Accident, 168.
33. (3) William Byron (P), Chevrolet, Accident, 162.
34. (11) Erik Jones, Toyota, Accident, 162.
35. (37) Austin Theriault, Ford, Accident, 162.
36. (36) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, Accident, 161.
37. (2) Alex Bowman (P), Chevrolet, Accident, 106.
38. (4) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Accident, 106.
39. (12) Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, Accident, 106.
40. (39) Spencer Boyd(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 53.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 136.644 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 39 Mins, 35 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.007 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 9 for 43 laps.
Lead Changes: 47 among 19 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Keselowski (P) 1-4;K. Busch (P) 5-6;A. Dillon 7;K. Busch 8-18;R. Blaney (P) 19-33;E. Jones 34;A. Almirola 35;B. Keselowski (P) 36-40;R. Newman 41-43;B. Keselowski (P) 44-45;K. Busch 46;C. Elliott (P) 47-49;D. Hemric # 50;W. Byron (P) 51-53;J. Logano (P) 54;W. Byron (P) 55-58;B. Wallace 59;R. Blaney (P) 60-72;J. Logano (P) 73-77;C. Elliott (P) 78-83;B. Keselowski (P) 84-86;C. Elliott (P) 87-89;B. Keselowski (P) 90-93;A. Almirola 94-95;J. Johnson 96-97;C. Elliott (P) 98-101;J. Logano (P) 102-103;C. Elliott (P) 104-106;C. Bowyer (P) 107-111;C. Buescher 112;B. Keselowski (P) 113-116;W. Byron (P) 117;C. Bowyer (P) 118-125;K. Busch (P) 126;J. Logano (P) 127-133;A. Theriault 134;R. Stenhouse Jr 135-142;J. Logano (P) 143;R. Stenhouse Jr 144-150;K. Busch (P) 151-153;L. Cassill(i) 154;W. Byron (P) 155-159;R. Stenhouse Jr 160-175;K. Busch 176-179;R. Stenhouse Jr 180;K. Busch (P) 181;R. Blaney (P) 182-188.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Ryan Blaney (P) 3 times for 35 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr 4 times for 32 laps; Brad Keselowski (P) 6 times for 22 laps; Chase Elliott (P) 5 times for 19 laps; Kurt Busch 3 times for 16 laps; Joey Logano (P) 5 times for 16 laps; William Byron (P) 4 times for 13 laps; Clint Bowyer (P) 2 times for 13 laps; Kyle Busch (P) 4 times for 7 laps; Aric Almirola 2 times for 3 laps; Ryan Newman 1 time for 3 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 2 laps; Austin Theriault 1 time for 1 lap; Daniel Hemric # 1 time for 1 lap; Austin Dillon 1 time for 1 lap; Chris Buescher 1 time for 1 lap; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 1 lap; Erik Jones 1 time for 1 lap; Landon Cassill(i) 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 24,22,88,17,2,42,48,41,1,12
Stage #2 Top Ten: 14,22,2,3,41,12,37,24,1,18