Ryan Blaney Wins by Inches on Emotional Day at Talladega

Ryan Blaney wins by 0.007 of an inch in the NASCAR Cup Series, GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Monday, June 22nd.
TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – JUNE 22: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Sylvania Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on June 22, 2020, in Talladega, Alabama. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Ryan Blaney wins by 0.007 of an inch in the NASCAR Cup Series, GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Monday, June 22nd.

An event that began with a massive show of support for Bubba Wallace ended with one of Wallace’s best friends, Ryan Blaney, celebrating in Victory Lane for the second straight race at Talladega Superspeedway.

In a wild overtime dash, Blaney won Monday’s GEICO 500 by 0.007 seconds over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as crashing cars bounced off each other and the outside wall behind the top two finishers. The victory was Blaney’s first of the season, second straight at the 2.66-mile track and the fourth of his career.

It was a day that started ominously—and not because of the rain clouds that threatened to delay the race for a second straight day and caused a stoppage of 57 minutes, 18 seconds after 57 laps were complete on Monday.

The Bad News. Then, The Good News

News that a noose had been discovered Sunday evening in the garage stall of Wallace, the NASCAR Cup Series’ only African-American driver, dominated national headlines and brought strong statements of condemnation from both NASCAR and team owner Richard Petty.

Drivers and their crews assembled before the race to escort Wallace and his car to the head of the grid. The lasting image of the pre-race was Wallace being embraced by a succession of his fellow competitors.

Ryan Blaney Wins and Friends Celebrate Victory

Nearly five hours later, Wallace was congratulating Blaney in Victory Lane after a scintillating conclusion that saw Blaney knocking the Toyota of Eric Jones into the outside wall as the cars approached the finish line—and still managing to beat Stenhouse to the stripe by roughly 12 inches.

“I just kind of blocked, just trying to block the best we could,” Blaney said. “Ride the top, ride the bottom. The 20 (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. Thank you everybody for coming… That was a lot of fun.”

Ford Dominates Talladega

Ford drivers have won nine of the last ten Talladega Cup races.

Top-Ten

Aric Almirola slid sideways across the finish line to claim third place, with Denny Hamlin and Jones following in fourth and fifth, respectively. Chris Buescher, Alex Bowman, John Hunter Nemechek, Kurt Busch, and Kevin Harvick completed the top-ten. Kevin Harvick continues to lead the series point standings.

Bubba Wallace

Wallace, who spearheaded efforts within the sport to ban the Confederate flag from NASCAR events, climbed from his car after a 14th-place finish and saluted fans who gathered at the catch fence to greet him. As the next phase of the reopening of the sport, 5,000 fans were allowed to attend the race. 

“The sport is changing,” Wallace said, as he stood in front of the first grandstand. “The deal that happened yesterday… I wanted to show whoever it was that you’re not going to take away my smile. I’m going to keep ongoing. I’ve been a part of this sport for a really long time…

“All in all, we won today. The pre-race deal was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness in my life, from all the supporters, from drivers and crew members and everybody here. It’s truly incredible, and I’m proud to be a part of this sport.”

Stenhouse said that the fans were chanting for Wallace before the start of the race, loud enough for the drivers to hear it on pit road.

Notes

  • Sunoco Rookie of the Year points leader Tyler Reddick won the first stage under caution after the rain delay, his first stage win in the Cup series
  • Stenhouse won Stage 2 before losing the race in a photo finish.
  • The final lap featured a wild melee in turns three and four before cars careened out of control at the finish line.
  • Seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson was instrumental in organizing the pre-race show of support for Wallace.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 51st Annual GEICO 500

Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega, Alabama

Sunday, June 21, 2020

                1. (12)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 191.

                2. (20)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Chevrolet, 191.

                3. (15)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 191.

                4. (2)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 191.

                5. (18)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 191.

                6. (21)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 191.

                7. (8)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 191.

                8. (22)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 191.

                9. (7)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 191.

                10. (5)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 191.

                11. (19)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 191.

                12. (33)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 191.

                13. (4)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 191.

                14. (24)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 191.

                15. (31)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 191.

                16. (25)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 191.

                17. (9)  Joey Logano, Ford, 191.

                18. (26)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 191.

                19. (6)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 191.

                20. (16)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 191.

                21. (39)  Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 191.

                22. (28)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 191.

                23. (1)  Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 191.

                24. (14)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 191.

                25. (10)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 190.

                26. (23)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 190.

                27. (32)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 190.

                28. (37)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 190.

                29. (35)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 190.

                30. (29)  Gray Gaulding(i), Ford, 190.

                31. (30)  BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 190.

                32. (3)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 189.

                33. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 185.

                34. (40)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 185.

                35. (27)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, Accident, 178.

                36. (34)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 178.

                37. (36)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, Accident, 141.

                38. (11)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, Accident, 135.

                39. (17)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 133.

                40. (13)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, Rear Hub, 127.

The GEICO 500 Stats

Average Speed of Race Winner:  146.933 mph.

Time of Race:  Three Hrs, 27 Mins, 28 Secs. The Margin of Victory:  0.007 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  Eight for 33 laps.

Lead Changes:  56 among 19 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Truex Jr 1-4;D. Hamlin 5-7;J. Logano 8-10;D. Hamlin 11-14;J. Logano 15-17;D. Hamlin 18-22;J. Logano 23-26;M. DiBenedetto 27;J. Logano 28-35;K. Busch 36;J. Logano 37-39;W. Byron 40;D. Hamlin 41-42;J. Logano 43;D. Hamlin 44-45;A. Bowman 46;J. Logano 47-49;A. Bowman 50;J. Logano 51;T. Reddick # 52;J. Logano 53-55;T. Reddick # 56-60;R. Newman 61;A. Bowman 62-64;R. Blaney 65;J. Johnson 66;K. Busch 67;R. Blaney 68-69;K. Busch 70-71;R. Blaney 72-73;K. Busch 74;R. Blaney 75-96;B. Poole # 97;R. Blaney 98-105;R. Stenhouse Jr 106;R. Blaney 107-111;R. Stenhouse Jr 112;R. Blaney 113-118;R. Stenhouse Jr 119-121;C. Buescher 122-125;K. Harvick 126;R. Preece 127;C. Elliott 128-130;D. Hamlin 131;R. Blaney 132-142;C. Bell # 143-146;D. Hamlin 147;J. Logano 148-150;W. Byron 151-160;B. Wallace 161;J. Logano 162;R. Preece 163-164;A. Bowman 165-171;T. Reddick # 172-184;R. Blaney 185-189;K. Harvick 190;R. Blaney 191.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Ryan Blaney ten times for 63 laps; Joey Logano 11 times for 33 laps; Tyler Reddick # three times for 19 laps; Denny Hamlin seven times for 18 laps; Alex Bowman four times for 12 laps; William Byron two times for 11 laps; Kyle Busch four times for five laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr three times for five laps; Martin Truex Jr one time for four laps; Christopher Bell # one time for four laps; Chris Buescher one time for four laps; Ryan Preece two times for three laps; Chase Elliott one time for three laps; Kevin Harvick two times for two laps; Bubba Wallace one time for one lap; Brennan Poole # one time for one lap; Matt DiBenedetto one time for one lap; Jimmie Johnson one time for one lap; Ryan Newman one time for one lap.

Stage 1 Top-Ten: 8,88,22,48,18,12,2,1,9,24

Stage 2 Top-Ten: 47,12,18,2,95,22,43,41,17,24

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