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NASCAR Cup Series

Ryan Blaney Escapes Final Lap Chaos At Daytona

Ryan Blaney is rolling into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with lots of confidence and momentum. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

On the final lap, Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney cleared the carnage behind him and set sail to his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series victory by winning the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Blaney picked up his third win of the 2021 season.

With Ryan Blaney ahead going down the backstretch, Kurt Busch turned Daniel Suarez into Kevin Harvick, starting a big wreck that collected multiple drivers. Ultimately, the race ended under caution.

Ryan Blaney won last weekend at Michigan and the Atlanta spring race. The No. 12 team enters the playoffs with plenty of momentum.

“I just think this team is so good, they can do it,” Blaney said.

“If they really perform to the best of their abilities, and I do as well, I think we have a good shot at it. Capitalizing on opportunities, that’s what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks, putting ourselves in positions to win races.”


Ryan Blaney is certainly making Todd Gordon’s final season as crew chief a memorable one. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

As the No. 12 continues to roll, one wonders if crew chief Todd Gordon will reconsider retirement, especially with the team is performing this well.

“Yeah, I’m still looking forward to what the next chapter brings. I’m not sure what that is,” Gordon said.

“I thought it would be awesome to cap this thing off with victories through the Playoffs and on through Phoenix. That’s the goal.”

Chase Elliott threw a huge block on a hard-charging Matt DiBenedetto in Turn 4 fighting hard for the lead, with four laps remaining. Unfortunately for them, this move put both in the wall, igniting a multi-car wreck.

With 15 laps to go, Martin Truex Jr. checked up on the backstretch to avoid running into the competitors ahead of him. Then, the No. 19 Toyota got turned by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who did not have enough time to react.

Consequently, multiple drivers were involved, including the driver battling for the final playoff spot, Tyler Reddick.

Despite the No. 8 Chevrolet suffering quite a bit of damage, Reddick soldiered on and persevered to a solid fifth-place result. In particular, Reddick claimed the 16th and final playoff spot, eliminating teammate Austin Dillon from postseason contention.

Stage 2

Joey Logano held off an intense pack of drivers to secure Stage 2. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Joey Logano worked his way to the front of the pack and powered to the Stage 2 victory, in his second race working with new spotter Coleman Pressley.

On Lap 78, the bottom line stacked up and multiple cars checked up, which ended in spins by Aric Almirola and Alex Bowman to bring out the caution.

After two stages, the points battle for the 16th and final spot in the playoffs got a little tighter, with Tyler Reddick holding an 18-point advantage over Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon.

Stage 2 Results: Logano, Dillon, Byron, Reddick, Larson, Blaney, Stenhouse Jr., Ky. Busch, Wallace, Bell.

Stage 1

Chase Elliott leads the pack around Daytona. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Chase Elliott recovered from a pesky piece of debris overheating the engine in the closing laps of the opening stage, navigating his way back to the front en route to a Stage 1 victory.

Once again, Kyle Busch showed us his impressive car control skills. Coming to the end of Stage 1, Busch was trying to help push his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin when the No. 18 Toyota got a bit sideways.

Busch saved it and continued on his with night until a race-ending wreck on Lap 157.

Prior to the competition caution, Ross Chastain’s aggressiveness got the best of him. Chastain attempted to make a bold block on the backstretch and slapped the wall.

Shortly after the fact, Chastain pitted for right-side tires and stayed on the lead lap. Moreover, he recovered from what could have been a disastrous blow to his playoff hopes to finish fourth in Stage 1.

Stage 1 Results: Elliott, Hamlin, Ky. Busch, Chastain, Truex, Dillon, LaJoie, Logano, Preece, Custer.

Buescher Disqualified

Chris Buescher hoped to punch his ticket to the playoffs at Daytona but was left empty-handed with a disqualification. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Entering Daytona needing a win to secure a playoff berth, Chris Buescher left it all on the track. In fact, the No. 17 Ford Mustang fought for the win in the closing laps and did everything possible to win the race.

Buescher came across the finish line in second-place. However, NASCAR disqualified him after the race for an unapproved track bar mounting assembly.

In this case, Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ryan Newman settled for third. Despite Buescher’s disqualification, RFR can use a good night under the lights as motivation to end the final 10 races of the season on a high note as an organization, with some momentum heading into 2022.

Special Night For The Underdogs

Superspeedway racing typically gives underdogs like BJ McLeod an opportunity to shine. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Markedly, BJ McLeod and Josh Bilicki achieved personal milestones, with both drivers earning their first career top-1os in the NASCAR Cup Series.

In his 76th Cup start, McLeod finished ninth. Bilicki rounded out the top-10, accomplishing this feat in his 61st Cup start.

By all means, it was a special night for a pair of underdogs in the Cup garage.


In February, Michael McDowell found himself on top of the mountain. Saturday night was a different story. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By all means, Michael McDowell experienced the highs of Daytona by winning the Great American Race in February. Now, he experienced the lows several months later, finishing 39th in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, exiting the race early.

“I was being pretty conservative and then under the caution, I just lost oil pressure,” McDowell said. “It’s really unfortunate.”

While engine issues doomed McDowell’s chances of sweeping Daytona, he can still smile knowing that he has the opportunity to compete for a championship with Front Row Motorsports.

Darlington Playoff Opener

On Sunday, Sept. 5, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs kicks off with the Cook Out Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at Darlington Raceway, one of NASCAR’s premier crown jewel events.

After claiming the regular season title over Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson begins the postseason at the top of the standings. Notably, Darlington begins a grueling 10-week grind on the way to crowning a champion at Phoenix Raceway in early November.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 Top-10 Results: Blaney, Wallace, Newman, Preece, Reddick, Haley, Bowman, Elliott, McLeod, Bilicki.

Kobe Lambeth is a 2021 graduate of UNC Charlotte, who earned his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies (mass media concentration), with a double minor in Journalism and American Studies. In February 2007, he initially developed a strong passion for motorsports. His childhood dream is to work in the motorsports industry for a long time. In June 2017, his journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow, covering high school sports and leading a Twitter project. He was a part of expanded coverage of high school football within his local community. Through the use of Twitter, his team had a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts. At The Podium Finish, he intends to provide professional motorsports coverage, focusing on series such as the NASCAR Cup Series, NTT IndyCar Series and more. He's also a Freelance Editor at NASCAR Digital Media and Multimedia Producer at GRID Network

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