The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returned for day number two on Monday for the completion of the 1000bulbs.com 500 on Monday after the rain was rain-delayed on Sunday due to rain and it was well worth the wait.
Ryan Blaney just barely beat Ryan Newman at the finish line for the third victory of his career, the first of the 2019 season.
“We restarted in the lead there, had the 10 (Aric Almirola) behind me and had a few Fords lined up, which I felt comfortable with,” Blaney told MRN Radio. “Can’t thank Aric enough for pushing me in that race and stuck with me there at the end. Then, the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and 6 (Newman) got rolling there on top, and I knew I couldn’t have blocked them, they were hooked up and coming way too fast. If I would have blocked, they would have split me, that wouldn’t have been good.”
“I was able to get the 6 off the 11 there and then the 3 (Austin Dillon), and just had a big run coming to the 6 and almost spun out. Kind of forced below the yellow there and we were able to beat, and bang to the line. Really proud of this whole group. Thanks to all the fans for sticking around for the last couple of days. Been a pretty wild day, but got it done.”
The second race in the Round of 12 originally started on Sunday afternoon. Chase Elliott had qualified on the pole with his Hendrick Motorsport teammates behind him. The raced was moved up due to weather in the area. Stages were 55/55/78 to make up the 188 lap race.
Stage 1 Lap 1- Lap 55
Not much action during the first stage until the first round of green flag pit stops. Ryan Blaney wheel hopped coming to pit road and wound up spinning into the grass. The first caution flew on lap 36 for the No. 52 of Spencer Boyd, who came to a stop in Turn 1.
After that caution, drivers raced hard, sometimes three wide at times. Most of them, particularly Chevy drivers were trying to work together to get to the front and make it a manufacture race.
Before the stage ended, Erik Jones had a flat tire on lap 50, but the race kept green until the stage finished on lap 55. At lap 55, William Byron took the Stage 1 win. However, just two laps later, rains came into the area and forced a postponement to Monday afternoon.
Stage 2 Lap 62- Lap 110
Flash forward to Monday afternoon, the race resumed under sunny skies and it was calm before the storm. As the race was restarted, Brad Keselowski had troubles restarting his car. However, after the push truck came out, Keselowski’s car got back going.
The action picked up when Stage 2 began with three wide racing once again. At times, there were single file racing, but for the most part, it was what you would expect when coming to Talladega.
During Stage 2, Denny Hamlin had trouble with his hood flap that came off. Though, he was able to stay on track without getting black flagged.
Green flag pit stops took place on lap 90, with the manufactures splitting the pit cycle. Chevy’s pitted on lap 90, then Toyota’s, then Ford. When pit stops were completed, Chase Elliott cycled out as the leader.
A big moment came on lap 106, where a big crash broke out. Alex Bowman tried throwing a block on Joey Logano, but failed to do so. In result, a multi-car crash broke loose with many involved. Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Hamlin, Elliott, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Preece were all involved in the wreck.
With the accident taking place so close to the end of Stage 2, it left race officials no choice but to end the stage under yellow. This time around, it was Clint Bowyer who was the leader when the crash happened and saw him take Stage 2. Logano, Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Blaney, Chris Buescher, Byron, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch were the top-10 finishers.
Stage 3 Lap 116- Lap 188
There were many incidents in the third and final stage. On lap 121, Bubba Wallace came up in front of the No. 77 of Blake Jones and was turned into the wall. Jones then was caught by another vehicle, which caused him to spin out.
The caution flew on lap 131 for Martin Truex Jr, who had a flat left front tire shred and left debris. This caused a restart on lap 137, but on lap 152, Clint Bowyer had a flat left rear go down and was stuck on the apron in Turns 3&4 to bring out the yellow.
Another big accident broke loose on lap 163, as Byron was accidentally took a wrong bump draft from Kurt Busch going into Turn 3. This caused many drivers to be involved. Drivers like Erik Jones, Matt Crafton, Logano, Byron, Suarez, Preece and Austin Theriault were collected.
After those incidents took place, the intensity picked up even more as the checkered flag drew near. A quick yellow was seen on lap 173 for Suarez who spun around in Turn 4. When the race was restarted, we saw seven laps of intense green flag racing before the final crash broke out on lap 183.
The drivers were three wide on the backstretch, before a bump draft gone wrong triggered “The Big One” and it even saw a flip as well. When the accident occurred, race fans saw the No. 62 of Brendan Gaughan took a big flip after being hit on the side. Fortunately, Gaughan was okay and walked out, but the wreck took many drivers along for the ride.
Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Harvick, Daniel Hemric, Stenhouse, Kyle Busch, Buescher, Ragan, Preece and DiBenedetto were taken out. Many of which, were done for the day as their cars was too heavily damage to return to the track.
In this case, it set up an exciting two laps dash to the finish. Ryan Newman had a big run coming out of Turns 3&4 and caught Ryan Blaney. However, Blaney was somewhat forced below the yellow line which gave him the win over Newman. Nonetheless, it was a photo finish and Blaney locked himself into the Round of 8 by 0.007.
“You make that mistake yesterday (pit road slide) and then you sleep on it overnight with the rain delay,” Blaney added to MRN Radio. “Obviously, you just forget about that stuff. You learn what you need to do better next time to not have that happen. Can’t dwell on it, just try to learn from it. Like I said, long weekend here, but appreciate everyone sticking around. Pretty exciting finish.”
Blaney led three times for 35 laps en route to his fist victory of the season.
There were nine cautions for 43 laps with 46 lead changes.
Playoff Standings heading into the final race in the Round of 12 at Kansas.
- Kyle Larson, Advanced
- Ryan Blaney, Advanced
- Denny Hamlin, +56
- Martin Truex Jr, +48
- Kyle Busch, +41
- Kevin Harvick, +36
- Brad Keselowski, +20
- Joey Logano, +18
Below the cut line
- Alex Bowman, -18
- Chase Elliott, -22
- Clint Bowyer, -24
- William Byron, -27
- Ryan Blaney, led 35 laps
- Ryan Newman, led three laps
- Denny Hamlin
- Aric Almirola, led three laps
- Michael McDowell
- Austin Dillon, led one lap
- Corey LaJoie
- Chase Elliott, led 19 laps
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr, led 32 laps
- Ty Dillon
- Joey Logano, led 16 laps
- Ross Chastain
- Matt Tifft
- Landon Cassill, led one lap
- Parker Kligerman
- Matt Crafton (However, Paul Menard will get the credit for the finish after starting the race).
- Kevin Harvick
- Ryan Preece
- Kyle Busch, led seven laps
- Chris Buescher, Did not finish, Crash
- Daniel Hemric, one lap down
- Reed Sorenson, one lap down
- Clint Bowyer, two laps down, led 13 laps
- Bubba Wallace, three laps down, led one lap
- Brad Keselowski, OUT, Crash, led 22 laps
- Martin Truex Jr, six laps down
- Brendan Gaughan, OUT, Crash
- Kurt Busch, OUT, Crash, led 16 laps
- David Ragan, OUT, Crash
- Matt DiBenedetto, OUT, Crash
- Blake Jones, nine laps down
- Daniel Suarez, OUT, Crash
- William Byron, OUT, Crash, led 13 laps
- Erik Jones, OUT, Crash, led one lap
- Austin Theriault, OUT, Crash, led one lap
- Joey Gase, OUT, Crash
- Alex Bowman, OUT, Crash
- Jimmie Johnson, OUT, led two laps
- Kyle Larson, OUT, Crash
- Spencer Boyd, OUT, Engine
Up Next: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads back to the Midwest on Sunday October 20th for the conclusion of the Round of 12 at Kansas Speedway.