TALLADEGA, Ala – 46 lead changes occurred in Monday’s rain delayed 1000Bulbs.com 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway. But, while the last one isn’t scored as an “official” lead change, it was one that will forever be seen on highlight reels.
See, NASCAR scores official lead changes as when one driver crosses the finish line in the lead one lap and a new driver across the same finish line on a different lap in the lead. The box score shows Ryan Blaney having led the final seven circuits as he took over the lead during a large 10 car melee in Turn 3 on Lap 181.
With a bulk of the heavy hitters now eliminated, it was a three lap dash for the finish among some unusual suspects.
Blaney, restarted the race following a brief red flag for clean up, in the lead. He ended up there with a damaged car himself as the Team Penske driver spun while leading the race on the opening pit sequence on Sunday. They got his car dialed back in and there he was with a shot to win in the end.
But, Ryan Newman with drafting help from Denny Hamlin on the final lap was pushed to the lead on the backstretch. The problem with Newman was, he got sideways a bit while being pushed and was able to control his No. 6 Ford enough to hang onto the lead. But, the slight out of control nature of his car allowed Blaney to have drafting help of his own and to close back in.
Blaney, got to the rear bumper of Newman heading into the tri-oval and was able to side draft his way by to cross the finish line just 0.007-seconds ahead of Newman for the sixth closest finish in NASCAR history.
It was Blaney’s first win in over a year as his last came on Sept. 30 2018 on the Charlotte ROVAL. Now, he stamps his name into the Round of 8 by virtue of his thrilling win.
He gives Ford their sixth straight win in the Talladega fall race and Penske’s third in the last five and sixth in the last nine tries of Cup competition on the Alabama superspeedway.
It was a spin and win per say.
Newman, nearly saw his 98 race winless drought end but had to settle for a runner-up. It was his fourth top 10 in his last five Talladega starts.
Denny Hamlin rebounded from an early pit road speeding penalty to falling a lap down, to being in the first big one, to finishing third in his No. 11 Toyota. It was his third top six result in his last five Talladega tries and his third top five finish in his last four starts on the season as well.
Aric Almirola would finish fourth in his No. 10 Ford for his seventh straight top 10 finish at Talladega while Michael McDowell rounded out the top five in his No. 34 Ford.
The race was a wild one from the get go that saw a rain delay and three big ones.