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Blaney Wins At DIS; Reddick Earns Berth

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 28 2021

Ryan Blaney won his second straight on Saturday night. (File photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Tyler Reddick’s No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevy was smoking like Cheech and Chong’s ride as it circled Daytona International Speedway after it was involved in a big wreck with 15 laps to go on Saturday night.

It appeared it was bye-bye Playoff hopes.

But during the resulting caution, his RCR team went to work, mopped up the source of the smoke and sent Reddick back out on to the track for the final 10 laps. The car held together, allowing Reddick finish sixth and grab the final berth.

“Playoffs, here we come,” Reddick gushed on his radio to his crew after crossing the finish line.

Ryan Blaney took the lead on a restart in overtime and from there went on to win Saturday night’s crash-filled Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona.

The victory was the second consecutive for Blaney as the Team Penske driver won a week ago at Michigan International Speedway.

“Man, its been a fun two weeks,” Blaney, who now has three victories on the season, said.

He was in the lead on the final lap of OT when a big wreck exploded behind him, handing him the victory.

But it was help from behind on the restart which, he said, gave him the win.

“The biggest thing was just getting the push, right,” Blaney said. “I was just trying to get a good push. Corey LaJoie gave me a good push. Two weeks in a row I got really good pushes on restarts. It really all started with the 7 (LaJoie) giving me a good push to get me up front.”

Chris Buescher, who restarted in OT with the lead and needed a victory to earn a berth in the 16-driver, 10-race playoffs, finished second.

“It hurts, honestly,” Roush Fenway Racing’s Buescher said. “I guess at the end of the day on one side I’m glad to see another Ford in victory lane, but it hurts that it wasn’t us. It hurts to get this close and not quite make it and to be sitting here right at the moment. We got a good fire on the restart, but our lane didn’t materialize near as well.”

The playoffs begin next weekend at Darlington Raceway.

Third was Bubba Wallace with the 23XI team. It was Wallace and team’s best finish of the season.

Ryan Newman and Ryan Preece rounded out the top five.

It could turn out that the biggest positive for Blaney is momentum heading into the Playoffs.

“It’s huge,” Blaney, whose win was his first at historic DIA, 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. It’s a great way to end the regular season, but we’ve still got work to do. We’ve got 10 weeks of work to do and I’ll look forward to them.”

Blaney’s teammate, Austin Dillon, who started 17th in points – 25 behind Reddick – ran into a series of problems late in the race. He was issued a penalty with just under 20 laps to go and then had electrical system problems which required another pit stop to change his battery.

Hopes for Dillon died when he was involved on the final-lap wreck while running near the front.

Reddick was left a bit exhausted but relieved by events.

I don’t know how to smile at this point, it was a lot tonight,” Reddick said. “I’m excited to be past it.”

Dillon was left philosophical.

“We gave it all we could and fought until the end,” he said. “We’ll finish hard this year and build on next year.”

Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports finished 21st to claim the regular season championship. He was asked if he was surprised to win that championship in his first year with Hendrick after getting fired during the 2020 season by Chip Ganassi Racing.

Nope.

“I honestly thought we would get of to a slower start than we did but I felt like we could string together some good runs,” Larson, a five-time winner in 2021, said.

Thirteen drivers started the race who needed to win to get in. None could.

The starting field for the playoffs will consist of Larson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, Aric Almirola and Reddick.

Pole-sitter and points leader Larson was sent to the rear of the field for the start of the race after multiple pre-race inspection failures. Also sent to the rear were Kaz Grala, Joey Gase, McDowell and Anthony Alfredo.

McDowell, who was the winner of the Daytona 500 at DIS in February and as a result is locked into the playoffs, blew an engine 24 laps in.

“I felt like it was really racy, McDowell said of his car. “I was being pretty conservative and then under the caution I just lost oil pressure.”

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NASCAR Cup Series Race – 63rd Annual 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

 

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 28 2021
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