Monday, April 15, 2024

Ryan Blaney scores third Talladega win in photo finish, Harvick disqualified

Ryan Blaney is a three-time NASCAR Cup Series winner at Talladega Superspeedway, even if it meant taking years off his life as each victory came down to a dramatic photo finish. After winning in 2019 and 2020 by .007 seconds, he added his third with a margin of just .012.

Sunday’s YellaWood 500 was a mad scramble even uncharacteristic for Talladega with seventy lead changes, the seventh most in series history, between twenty-four drivers. Blaney and Kevin Harvick led a pair of lines in the final two laps before the former found a run exiting turn two to take the lead.

After committing to the inside, Blaney retook the lead with William Byron pushing before Harvick and Riley Herbst closed the gap on the otuside. Coming to the finish, Herbst and Chase Elliott were hit and spun in front of the pack. As the field wrecked behind them, Blaney and Harvick surged ahead with the former narrowly on top.

“We did a good job of positioning ourselves up towards the front there,” said Blaney. “After we made a mistake at Stage #2 and lost track position, we did a really good job and had a good pit stop and was able to start in the front two rows. The last restart, I guess, the #36 did a great job. Riley did a really good job of pushing me kind of where I needed it, especially when we were leading the top lane. He hasn’t run too many Cup races at all, and I think the only other speedway he has run is maybe Daytona a month ago. So he did a really good job of kind of understanding where to get on me and carry momentum. So appreciate him for that. He did a good job.

“I think the biggest thing was getting clear to the bottom down the back stretch in front of the #24 (Byron) to get alongside the #4 (Harvick). That made it to where, okay, now it’s a drag race between he and I. The biggest job too was making sure the #24 didn’t get clear, so I kind of had to drag brake to make sure the #4 stayed outside the #24 to make sure one of us won and made sure the #24 couldn’t jump outside of me and made sure I had his help.

“Just a neat day, fun day. It’s always fun to win these things, and you have to appreciate them because they’re so hard to do. We hung in there all day, and fun to drag race Kevin there at the end. I hate it had to be us to beat him at his final speedway race, but it was definitely fun to race with someone like that, especially coming down to the end where it gets pretty wild.”

Ironically, Blaney would have won annyway even if Harvick edged him out. After the race, Harvick’s #4 failed post-race inspection because the bolts keeping his windshield in place were not tightened. According to crew chief Rodney Childers“every bolt was still in” with thirty laps remaining before two came off ten laps later.

“There have been times I’ve got caught doing something I shouldn’t have,” wrote Childers in a since-deleted tweet. “Today got DQ’d for the car buffering in the draft all day and some windshield bolts vibrating out. My guys had silicon on the threads and gobbed on the tip. Still came out. Not sure what else we could do.”

The disqualification was the first in any NASCAR national series in 2023 and the first in the Cup Series since Brad Keselowski was busted at the 2022 Xfinity 500. While it spoils Harvick’s final race at Talladega, his Stewart-Haas Racing team does not intend to file an appeal.

“At the completion of the race, not all of our windshield fasteners were secure, as we had bolts that hold the windshield in place back out over the course of the 500 miles. We are in the process of diagnosing why this happened and how to prevent it moving forward,” reads a statement from SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli“We are disappointed in NASCAR’s decision to disqualify our racecar and the hard-earned finish by our driver and team, but we will not appeal. Our complete focus is on the remaining races on this year’s schedule.”

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 10 12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 188 Running
2 8 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 188 Running
3 12 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 188 Running
4 36 7 Corey LaJoie Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 188 Running
5 7 2 Austin Cindric Team Penske Ford 188 Running
6 30 31 Justin Haley Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 188 Running
7 23 9 Chase Elliott^ Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 188 Running
8 19 41 Ryan Preece Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 188 Running
9 6 36 Riley Herbst* Front Row Motorsports Ford 188 Running
10 28 99 Daniel Suárez Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 188 Running
11 34 13 Chandler Smith* Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 188 Running
12 17 38 Todd Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 188 Running
13 3 14 Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 188 Running
14 15 20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 188 Running
15 4 5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 188 Running
16 13 45 Tyler Reddick 23XI Racing Toyota 188 Running
17 1 10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 188 Running
18 16 19 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 188 Running
19 24 17 Chris Buescher RFK Racing Ford 188 Running
20 31 16 A.J. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 188 Running
21 18 34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 188 Running
22 35 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 188 Running
23 9 23 Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Toyota 188 Running
24 2 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 188 Running
25 25 8 Kyle Busch Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 188 Running
26 26 43 Erik Jones Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet 188 Running
27 33 77 Ty Dillon Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 188 Running
28 20 48 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 188 Running
29 37 78 B.J. McLeod* Live Fast Motorsports Chevrolet 187 Running
30 29 15 Brennan Poole* Rick Ware Racing Ford 186 Running
31 21 21 Harrison Burton Wood Brothers Racing Ford 175 Suspension
32 5 6 Brad Keselowski RFK Racing Ford 161 Accident
33 14 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 161 Accident
34 22 54 Ty Gibbs # Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 161 Accident
35 38 42 Carson Hocevar* Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet 161 Accident
36 27 51 J.J. Yeley* Rick Ware Racing Ford 83 Fuel Pump
37 32 1 Ross Chastain Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 59 Accident
38 11 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 188 Running (DSQ)
Bold – Currently in playoffs
^ – Currently in owner playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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