Blaney holds off Byron to claim narrow victory at Michigan

Matthew Thacker/Motorsport Images

Blaney holds off Byron to claim narrow victory at Michigan


Blaney holds off Byron to claim narrow victory at Michigan


Ryan Blaney used the choose rule and a timely push to win the Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

It was an eight-lap shootout to determine the finish of the NASCAR Cup Series race. Blaney chose to restart on the inside lane and moved to the front row alongside leader William Byron. On the restart, a push from Kyle Busch shoved Blaney out front through Turns 1 and 2, and Blaney took care of the rest.

Over the final laps, Blaney held off charges from Byron and Kyle Larson. He beat Byron to the finish line by 0.07s for the second win of the season for the Team Penske No. 12 team.

“(I) got a great push by the 18 [Kyle Busch] on the restart and was able to get clear there,” Blaney said. “Michigan is a matter of pretty much running wide open and trying to play the air game. I hate you have to race that way; that’s how you have to run. Worked out for us.

“Man, I’m proud of everybody on the 12 team. We weren’t great to start the day off, kept working and working, got a lot better. It’s so cool to get in victory lane for Ford here. This is such a huge win for Ford, Penske, Menards/Cardell, Bodyarmor. I can’t thank them enough, what they do. That was cool. I’m fired up.”

Blaney’s victory is the seventh straight for Ford at Michigan. It is the first time in his career Blaney has won multiple races in a season.

Byron finished second, Larson third, Kurt Busch fourth, and Denny Hamlin fifth. Matt DiBenedetto finished sixth and Kyle Busch seventh.

Chase Elliott finished eighth, Brad Keselowski finished ninth, and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top 10.

Elliott won the first stage. Kyle Busch won the second stage.

Byron had cycled to the race lead on lap 174 following green-flag pit stops, the final time the leaders came down pit road. A caution for rain with 21 laps to go bunched the field back up, with Byron holding serve on the ensuing restart with 14 laps to go.

The caution that set up the final run came out with 13 laps to go. A multi-car wreck off Turn 4 started with Truex getting into the back of Joey Logano, sending Logano spinning. Michael McDowell got into the back of Christopher Bell, and Josh Berry was also collected.

Byron led Larson and Hamlin at the time of the caution. All three took the outside lane at the choose line, with Blaney going from fourth to second.

Tyler Reddick spun in Turns 3 and 4 with seven laps to go, but NASCAR did not throw the caution. Reddick finished 29th.

Kevin Harvick clinched his playoff spot on points. One spot remains on the playoff grid, which will be determined in the regular-season finale at Daytona. Reddick holds the final spot by 25 points on Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon.

There were 20 lead changes among 11 drivers and six caution flags Sunday afternoon.