In the sixth closest finish in NASCAR Cup Series history, Blaney nipped Newman by 0.007 seconds to secure his spot in the Round of 8 in the playoffs as a crash broke out behind the field, though the race finished under green.
Blaney entered the 1000bulbs.com 500 in nearly a must-win scenario after a 35th-place finish last weekend at Dover International Speedway when his suspension broke.
"It was an amazing effort the last two days, to be honest with you," Blaney said. "We spun out early yesterday and missed some big ones today. We were able to weave our way through.
Crashes marred the race that took place over two days after it was postponed Sunday by rain following the first stage. The race picked up Monday with the beginning of Stage 2, and wrecks soon followed.
Three separate major multi-car crashes hit the field, with the first coming at the end of Stage 2, which ended the day for three Chevrolets, including the playoff cars of Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson. After two more major wrecks in the third stage, nearly all of the playoff drivers — save Blaney — had suffered some damage.
Blaney took the lead following a red flag for a multicar crash in the closing laps and held off a hard charge from Newman and Denny Hamlin to seal the victory. Aric Almirola, who pushed Blaney to the front on the restart, finished fourth, Michael McDowell fifth, Austin Dillon sixth, Corey LaJoie seventh, Chase Elliott eighth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ninth and Ty Dillon 10th.
“It’s disappointing to not win that one, to be so close," Newman said. "I’ve been that close here before. Quite a few years I’ve tried, but just crazy racing and proud to get our Wyndham Rewards Ford a good finish.
"I’ve always said you’ve got to lose some that way before you can win some that way, and I guess our wins are coming.”
Blaney's victory was the sixth win in a row for Ford in Talladega playoff races and the seventh win in the last 11 Cup Series race at Talladega for Team Penske.
BIG ONE PART III: With less than 10 laps remaining in the race, Kyle Busch, leading the middle lane, got shoved from behind and slammed hard into Brad Keselowski, who was leading the outside lane. That set off a multi-car collision, which sent Brendan Gaughan's No. 62 airborne, where it flipped upside down before landing on its tires and into Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto, David Ragan, Daniel Hemric and Stenhouse were also collected in the huge crash.
BIG ONE PART II: William Byron, running near the front of the inside lane, got a push from Kurt Busch, which sent him spinning into Joey Logano and started a chain reaction. Daniel Suarez, Ryan Preece, Erik Jones, Matt Crafton and Joey Gase were also involved in the multi-car wreck. Byron and Jones suffered race-ending damage, while Logano's No. 22 needed major repairs on pit road to get him back on the track.
STAGE 2: Following the massive multicar crash in the closing laps, the second segment ended under caution. Clint Bowyer earned the stage victory and a playoff point. Logano finished second for the second consecutive stage. He was followed by Penske teammate Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Suarez, Blaney, Buescher, Kurt Busch, Byron and Kyle Busch.
BIG ONE STRIKES: Bowman, who was leading the race, got a huge shove from Joey Logano on Lap 108, which sent him into a spin that collected a number of cars, including two of Bowman's Hendrick Motorsports teammates — Jimmie Johnson and Elliott. Larson, who had already clinched a berth in the Round of 8 with his victory at Dover last weekend, had his car totaled. Martin Truex Jr., Hamlin, Harvick and Preece were also involved, but Bowman, Johnson and Larson suffered the worst of the damage and were eliminated from the race.
"My guess is that I threw a block I shouldn't have," Bowman said. "I got shoved way out there. I knew the No. 22 (Logano) was coming, and I just tried to move down just a little bit. As soon as he touched me, it just turned it sideways.
"They just had a bigger run than I realized. I should have let them go and shouldn't have thrown a block."
DRIVER SWITCH: Crafton, a champion of the NASCAR Truck Series, took over driving duties from Paul Menard in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford following Stage 1. Menard had been experiencing severe neck pain at Talladega, and Crafton, who finished eighth in Saturday's Trucks race, had been on stand-by for Menard all weekend.
POSTPONED: Following the end of opening stage, rain started failing, prompting NASCAR to throw the red flag direct cars down pit road on lap 57. The red flag lasted roughly one hour and 30 minutes before NASCAR officials announced the remainder of the race would be rescheduled for Monday. The 2.666-mile Talladega track — NASCAR's largest — does not have lights, so racing at night was not an option.
STAGE 1: Byron took the opening stage and earned a playoff point on Sunday. Four Hendrick Chevrolets swept the top four spots in Saturday's qualifying and three — Byron, Bowman and Johnson — finished in the top seven of the first segment.
18mm Anti-slip Plywood Stage
Logano took second, followed by Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Keselowski. Larson came home sixth, and Johnson, Suarez, Kurt Busch and Blaney rounded out the top 10.
Lap Leaders: B. Keselowski 1-4; K. Busch 5-6; A. Dillon 7; K. Busch 8-18; R. Blaney 19-33; E. Jones 34; A. Almirola 35; B. Keselowski 36-40; R. Newman 41-43; B. Keselowski 44-45; K. Busch 46; C. Elliott 47-49; D. Hemric ‥ 50; W. Byron 51-53; J. Logano 54; W. Byron 55-58; B. Wallace 59; R. Blaney 60-72; J. Logano 73-77; C. Elliott 78-83; B. Keselowski 84-86; C. Elliott 87-89; B. Keselowski 90-93; A. Almirola 94-95; J. Johnson 96-97; C. Elliott 98-101; J. Logano 102-103; C. Elliott 104-106; C. Bowyer 107-111; C. Buescher 112; B. Keselowski 113-116; W. Byron 117; C. Bowyer 118-125; K. Busch 126; J. Logano 127-133; A. Theriault 134; R. Stenhouse Jr 135-142; J. Logano 143; R. Stenhouse Jr 144-150; K. Busch 151-153; L. Cassill 154; W. Byron 155-159; R. Stenhouse Jr 160-175; K. Busch 176-179; R. Stenhouse Jr 180; K. Busch 181; R. Blaney 182-188.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Ryan Blaney 3 times for 35 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr 4 times for 32 laps; Brad Keselowski 6 times for 22 laps; Chase Elliott 5 times for 19 laps; Kurt Busch 3 times for 16 laps; Joey Logano 5 times for 16 laps; William Byron 4 times for 13 laps; Clint Bowyer 2 times for 13 laps; Kyle Busch 4 times for 7 laps; Aric Almirola 2 times for 3 laps; Ryan Newman 1 time for 3 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 2 laps; Austin Theriault 1 time for 1 lap; Daniel Hemric 1 time for 1 lap; Austin Dillon 1 time for 1 lap; Chris Buescher 1 time for 1 lap; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 1 lap; Erik Jones 1 time for 1 lap; Landon Cassill 1 time for 1 lap.
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