Ryan Blaney survives chaos to win at Daytona as Playoff field is set

Ryan Blaney emerged from the smoke and fire Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway to win the final race of the NASCAR Cup series season as the field for the 2021 Playoff field is now set.

Blaney’s win came on an overtime finish and under caution while he was at the front as the lead group just behind him got together entering Turn 3 on the white flag lap setting off a multi-car crash that forced NASCAR to throw the yellow and freeze the field and giving the victory to Blaney.

“You never know how the end of these things is going to play out,” Blaney said. “Down the back, you don’t know what lane is getting a bigger run. I guess someone got tangled up over there. Hopefully everyone is okay.”

Blaney finished ahead of Chris Buescher who had been leading in the final laps and was trying desperately to race his way into the Playoff field. A crash two laps from the scheduled end of the race setup the overtime with Buescher in the lead and hoping to be an upset winner and Playoff contender.

“It hurts. This one stings a lot,” Buescher said. “… Want to get that one for so many different reasons.

“To miss that Playoff spot by one spot, that’s a tough ending to a day.”

The day got a bit tougher for Buescher as later his No. 17 Ford failed post-race inspection and was disqualified as NASCAR said it did not conform to the NASCAR rule specifications per the following rule: REAR SUB-FRAME ASSEMBLY; I-4 Track Bar Mounting Assembly. Buescher’s second-place finish was negated, and he was scored 40th, last in the 40-car field, as a result.

Bubba Wallace, who led 8 laps as one of 15 drivers to lead laps, inherited second. Ryan Newman and Ryan Preece were scored third and fourth.

Much of the attention on the night was the final spot in the 16 driver Playoff field with Tyler Reddick holding the spot coming into the night over his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon. Reddick, however, was involved in a multicar crash on lap 147, one of three in the final laps, in which his Chevrolet started leaking fluid on the track forcing NASCAR to throw a red flag for cleanup that lasted nearly 15 minutes.

Dillion was unable to take advantage of Riddick’s misfortune as his Chevy suffered electrical issues late in the going. He was then swept up in final crash and scored 18th.  Reddick held on to finish fifth and take the final Playoff spot.

The win marked the first time in his Cup career that Blaney has won back-to-back races, and it’s also his third win of the season also a career high.

Justin Haley was sixth, Alex Bowman seventh, Chase Elliott who won Stage 2 and led the second most laps of the day overcame damage in the second to last crash of the race to finish eighth, BJ McLeod and Josh Bilicki rounded out the top 10.

Joey Logano led the most laps on the night, 37, and won Stage 2. But his Ford had a tire go down late in the going forcing him to pit and leaving him with a 23rd place finish.

Kyle Larson won the Regular Season title over Denny Hamlin by 18 points. Larson had been awarded pole, but his Chevy failed pre-race inspection twice and he was forced to drop to the rear. He finished a quiet 20th.  Hamlin finished second in Stage 2 and led 7 laps, but his 13th place finish fell short of overcoming the deficit.

Larson is the top seed in the Playoffs followed by Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. Kyle Busch, Elliott, Bowman, Hamlin, William Byron, Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, Aric Almirola, Reddick and Kevin Harvick.

The Playoffs begin at Darlington Raceway with next Sunday’s Southern 500. Blaney will be the only driver heading into the first race of the Playoffs with two consecutive wins.

“It’s huge,” Blaney said.  “Momentum is what everything is all about.  Confidence is key and we came into this weekend very confident after last week with our heads held high.  They’ll be a little bit higher this week, so I look forward to getting to Darlington. “

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 28: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Ford, celebrates in the Ruoff Mortgage victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on August 28, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Coke Zero Sugar 400

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Saturday, August 28, 2021

  1. (6)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 165.
  2. (20)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 165.
  3. (23)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 165.
  4. (24)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 165.
  5. (17)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 165.
  6. (28)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 165.
  7. (15)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 165.
  8. (5)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 165.
  9. (30)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 165.
  10. (36)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 165.
  11. (21)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 165.
  12. (8)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 165.
  13. (3)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 165.
  14. (19)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 165.
  15. (11)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 165.
  16. (33)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Accident, 164.
  17. (27)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 164.
  18. (29)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Accident, 164.
  19. (26)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, Accident, 164.
  20. (1)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 164.
  21. (16)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, Accident, 164.
  22. (12)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 164.
  23. (22)  Joey Logano, Ford, 164.
  24. (25)  Cole Custer, Ford, 164.
  25. (9)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 164.
  26. (32)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 163.
  27. (40)  David Starr(i), Ford, 163.
  28. (31)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 163.
  29. (7)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 163.
  30. (34)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 163.
  31. (37)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, 162.
  32. (14)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 157.
  33. (10)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 156.
  34. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 156.
  35. (38)  Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 156.
  36. (39)  Landon Cassill(i), Toyota, Accident, 146.
  37. (2)  William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 146.
  38. (35)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 136.
  39. (18)  Michael McDowell, Ford, Engine, 23.
  40. (13)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 165.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  142.201 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 54 Mins, 3 Secs. Margin of Victory:  Under Caution Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 31 laps.

Lead Changes:  45 among 15 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson 0;W. Byron 1-6;K. Harvick 7-8;W. Byron 9;D. Hamlin 10-13;W. Byron 14-15;D. Hamlin 16;W. Byron 17;A. Dillon 18-19;C. Elliott 20-41;J. Logano 42-43;C. Elliott 44-52;R. Newman 53;C. Elliott 54-55;M. Truex Jr. 56;C. LaJoie 57;M. Truex Jr. 58-69;C. Bell 70-76;J. Logano 77-94;R. Blaney 95-96;J. Logano 97-101;A. Dillon 102;R. Newman 103;W. Byron 104-105;D. Hamlin 106-107;K. Harvick 108;C. Elliott 109;K. Harvick 110;J. Logano 111;R. Chastain 112-113;R. Blaney 114-116;R. Chastain 117-123;B. Wallace 124;R. Chastain 125-126;B. Wallace 127-128;R. Chastain 129;B. Wallace 130;R. Chastain 131-132;B. Wallace 133-136;K. Busch 137-141;C. Bell 142;J. Logano 143-153;C. Buescher 154;C. Elliott 155-156;C. Buescher 157-163;R. Blaney 164-165.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Joey Logano 5 times for 37 laps; Chase Elliott 5 times for 36 laps; Ross Chastain 5 times for 14 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 2 times for 13 laps; William Byron 5 times for 12 laps; Christopher Bell 2 times for 8 laps; Bubba Wallace 4 times for 8 laps; Chris Buescher 2 times for 8 laps; Denny Hamlin 3 times for 7 laps; Ryan Blaney 3 times for 7 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 5 laps; Kevin Harvick 3 times for 4 laps; Austin Dillon 2 times for 3 laps; Ryan Newman 2 times for 2 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,11,18,42,19,3,7,22,37,20

Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,3,24,8,5,12,47,18,23,20


Greg Engle