Blaney Wins at Talladega as NASCAR World Rallies Around Wallace

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Ryan Blaney won the Geico 500 from Talladega Superspeedway on Monday afternoon.

Blaney won after he and his Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski dominated most of the race.

The Penske trio quickly worked their way to the front on Monday, after the race was postponed due to rain on Sunday.  After a late caution forced the drivers to worry about fuel-mileage, Blaney hung in the back of the pack until the closing laps.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Blaney said he needed to make his move with 12 laps to go.

“We came back in and topped off, and we were just riding around until maybe 12 to go,” Blaney said.  “I was waiting for Kevin [Harvick] to kind of go, but he had to save more than I did, so we just kind of had to get going.”

A caution with three laps to go forced the race into overtime, and Blaney was able to hold off the rest of the leaders.

Coming to the checkered flag, Blaney made contact with Erik Jones, causing a wreck as the field crossed the line.  Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. raced side-by-side across the line, and Blaney was able to hold him off in a photo finish.

Blaney said he was excited to get his first win of the season.

“Just trying to block the best we could,” Blaney said.  “Just kind of trying to beat and bang to the line; just edged it out.  It’s been a really cool year so far.”

The race began with the NASCAR world supporting Bubba Wallace.  On Sunday, a noose was found hanging in the garage stall of Wallace’s team, and NASCAR immediately launched an investigation.

Wallace, the only African American driver in the Cup Series, has been outspoken over the past few weeks as protests have erupted across the country, and has even played a part in NASCAR banning the Confederate flag from tracks.

After news of the noose was announced last night, the drivers in the garage decided to support Wallace.  Before the race, the entire garage pushed Wallace’s 43 car to the front of the field, where they surrounded him during the pre-race prayer and national anthem.

Wallace, standing in front of fans wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts in the stands, said the 14th-place finish was like a win after everything that’s happened.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

“This is probably the most badass moment right here,” Wallace said.  “We had a good race going today…I know I should have won that damn race.  All in all, we won today.”

“The pre-race deal was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness in my life, from all the supporters from drivers to crew members to everybody here.”

Wallace ended with a message to the person who tried to intimidate his team.

“The sport is changing.  The deal that happened yesterday…sorry I’m not wearing my mask, but I wanted to show whoever it was that you’re not going to take away my smile; I’m going to keep on going.”

Unofficial results:

  1. Ryan Blaney
  2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  3. Aric Almirola
  4. Denny Hamlin
  5. Erik Jones
  6. Chris Buescher
  7. Alex Bowman
  8. John Hunter Nemechek
  9. Kurt Busch
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. William Byron
  12. Ty Dillon
  13. Jimmie Johnson
  14. Bubba Wallace
  15. Ryan Preece
  16. Corey LaJoie
  17. Joey Logano
  18. Michael McDowell
  19. Brad Keselowski
  20. Tyler Reddick
  21. Brendan Gaughan
  22. Cole Custer
  23. Martin Truex Jr.
  24. Ryan Newman
  25. Clint Bowyer
  26. Matt DiBenedetto
  27. Quin Houff
  28. Daniel Suarez
  29. Christopher Bell
  30. Gray Gaulding
  31. BJ McLeod
  32. Kyle Busch
  33. Timmy Hill
  34. Garrett Smithley
  35. Brennan Poole
  36. JJ Yeley
  37. Joey Gase
  38. Chase Elliott
  39. Austin Dillon
  40. Matt Kenseth