Always-compelling Talladega was even more so Monday, when the race was resumed after rain on Sunday halted action with 57 laps of the scheduled 188 laps completed. Blaney would lead 35 total laps for the day, but it would be his work late in the race that would count the most.
As an accident broke out farther back in the pack - one of a couple "Big One" multi-car wrecks Monday - Blaney pulled alongside Newman and beat him to the finish line by mere inches. Blaney would hold off Ryan Newman in a door-to-door dash to the finish line by just.007 seconds.
Yet no one could have foreseen the carnage or the type of finish as Blaney pipped Newman at the finish line for his first victory of 2019 and third of his career. On the final lap, Blaney surrendered the lead to Newman, who got a strong push to the front from eventual third-place finisher Denny Hamlin. There looked to be side contact that pushed Blaney under the yellow line, but the 25-year-old kept his wits, got all four tires back onto the track and barely beat Newman to the line. We knew we had a good vehicle and just put it behind us and move on.
After the win, Blaney thanked his team and talked about the important of this race.
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"We were 15 seconds from finishing dead last in this race, so I am very, very fortunate that it happened right there at the end of the lap", Hamlin said. "I have been coming here ever since I was really young and watched my dad run here a lot and watched him run pretty good here a lot". Drive for the Wood Brothers here. "I don't know what else to say". I could have pinched him some more, I probably could have took the air, you could go back and bench race for three weeks from now.
Rounding out the top five were Aric Almirola of Stewart Haas Racing and Michael McDowell of Front Row Motorsports. Bowman spun back into the field and collected a handful of cars, including Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece. Byron's day was over as a result, but Logano's team was able to fix the damage and send the No. 22 back into the trenches for an eleventh-place finish. "I threw a block", he said. They (Logano) had a bigger run than I realized. It occurred when William Byron was bumped sideways and then into the wall. Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Ford) took the second stage and benefited from a caution period that ran from 107 to the end of the stage on Lap 116. Just survived. This was a huge, huge race for us. Four drivers them left on lap 181 due to a crash, including One Bite sponsored driver Matt DiBenedetto, Envision sponsored driver David Ragan, Monster Energy driver Busch, and Beard Oil sponsored Brendan Gaughan. The race was in the first stage intermission when rain began to fall 2.66-mile track.
Next up is the playoffs cutdown race at Kansas Speedway.