Ford Performance Driver Ryan Blaney Wins Thriller at Talladega


After initially being delayed a full day due to rain, NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway finally got underway this past Monday.


Following a crash-strewn 500 miles, Ford Performance and Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney earned his third-ever win in a stunning 0.007 second finish over fellow Ford Performance veteran Ryan Newman. According to NBCSports, it was the sixth-closest MENCS finish of all-time. 


When Newman took the lead on the last of 188 laps going into Turn 3 thanks to a last minute push by driver Denny Hamlin, Blaney made contact with Newman’s left rear quarter-panel in the middle of the tri-oval. The two Mustangs rubbed doors all the way down the front stretch as they barrelled down on the checkered flag. At the last possible thousandths of a second (literally), Blaney barely edged out the No. 6 car, claiming victory after a hard-fought battle. 


“There was no blocking (Newman) and (Hamlin),” Blaney told NBCSN. “They were coming so fast and I figured if I’d give up the bottom they were just going to leave me in the middle. So I decided to stay with Aric (Almirola). Great pusher all day and I kind of went up and pulled (Hamlin) off (Newman) and then he was so far out in front…(Newman kind of pushed me below the yellow line and I wasn’t going to go there...Kind of got forced down and it just worked out.” 


Blaney’s Talladega win marks the second race in a row in which a playoff driver has won their first race of the year following Kyle Larson’s win at Dover last week. The win locks Blaney in to the next round of the MENCS playoffs as he seeks his first-ever Cup series championship.


For Newman, the second place finisher tied his career-best finish at the track, but expressed lighthearted disappointment at missing out on victory lane.


“They spent $50 million redeveloping this place, I should have thrown in fifty bucks to have them move the start-finish line. Repainted it or something,” Newman joked. “It was a great run...We just came up that little bit short. I don’t know what else to say. I could have pinched him some more...you can go back and bench race that three weeks from now. It was good racing to the end,” Newman added. 


The final top-5 rounded out by Denny Hamlin, and Ford drivers Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell. Following the final Talladega race of the year, Blaney has attained second place in the NASCAR MENCS Playoff Standings, while Ford Performance drivers Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano currently sit in sixth, seventh, and eighth place respectively. 


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