(Ryan Blaney beating William Byron to the checkered flag to win) https://twitter.com/joe_srigley/status/1429580277345656836?s=20
Ryan Blaney won a hectic race at Michigan in what would be the closest margin of victory in the Irish Hills. With this being the second to last race of the regular season, a lot would be on the line and risks would take place for those trying to make it into the playoffs. It is noted that Corey Lajoie was forced to sit out the race as per Covid Protocols and Josh Berry would make his second Cup series start, this time subbing for Lajoie.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott started on the front row with Elliott on the pole position. Blaney would fall back at the start of the race early in stage one as another driver being Martin Truex Jr would struggle in the early part of the stage suffering from left rear damage on his quarter panel thanks to the 18 of Kyle Busch. The damage would hinder the car of Truex Jr as every team has set up their cars similarly to how they would at a superspeedway because of this low horsepower aero package. Competition Caution would come out on lap 22 as there was no practice or qualifying for this race weekend as Larson still leads. Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott would restart on the front row as Hamlin would only take fuel during pit stops because his crew chief Chris Gabehart could not hear him on the radio until the restart. Caution would come out on lap 32 for the 15 car of Joey Gase as he would have a tire problem and have heavy impact into the outside wall, ending his day.
Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott would bring the field to the green flag on the restart. Busch would slide back through the field after only taking left side tires on pit road. The battle for the stage one win would come down to Elliott, Austin Dillon, Larson, Hamlin, and Logano as the top five would be covered by a blanket. With Dillon hot on the heels of Elliott, it would be the Camaro of Elliott taking the stage one win over a very fast number 3 car of Austin Dillon.
Larson and Dillon would lead the field for stage two at the restart on lap 67. Matt Dibenedetto would make contact with Kurt Busch coming out of turn for on lap 68, Busch would save his car almost wrecking but keeps it off the wall only losing several spots on track. The top four continue to battle as the field spreads out but manufacturers are trying to work with each other drafting to get to the front. Pit stops would begin with 15 laps to go in stage two with William Byron heading to his pit. Larson and Elliott the leaders would pit with 10 and 9 laps to go respectively. As the green and white checkered flag would come out to end stage 2, Kyle Busch would be your winner but a huge wreck would occur for the battle for a sixth place and a playoff point as Brad Keselowski would hook Austin Dillon on the front stretch wrecking the 3 car leaving it absolutely destroyed.
Start of stage three sees Larson and Kurt Busch restart 1 and 2 with 74 laps remaining in the race. After some mishaps at the start of the race, Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr have bounced back running in the top five along with Ryan Newman in the top 10. As Larson would continue to lead with 53 laps to go, Byron would come up to challenge. Green flag pit stops would start happening with 44 laps to go, firstly with Byron and Bowman followed by Larson who would run out of fuel with 41 to go coming to pit lane. With 32 to go Kyle Busch slides through his pit box forcing him to back up before being able to complete his pit stop. Caution would come out for a pop up shower with 21 laps to go.
Byron and Kurt Busch will restart on the front row with 14 laps to go. Caution would come out as Tyler Reddick would dive bomb coming into turn three, he would stack up the field behind him as Logano would run into him and Truex would run into Logano spinning him collecting several cars including Berry, Kevin Harvick and Michael McDowell. On what would be the final restart of the race, Ryan Blaney would opt to take the inside lane while the top four took the top lane meaning he was able to restart on the front row in what could be the race winning move.
It was Byron and Blaney on the front row for the final restart, a big push by Kyle Busch would excel Blaney way out front while Byron would put a block on Denny Hamlin. With 6 laps to go, Reddick would have a tire go down spinning around but we would stay caution free. In the closing laps, Blaney would continue to drive very defensively, mirror driving, blocking Byron and Larson as Ryan Blaney would beat William Byron to the line by 0.077 seconds.
This victory for Blaney marks sixth of his career, and makes this season his first multi win season. His second win of the season also meant it was the closest margin of victory ever at Michigan International Speedway!
FireKeepers Casino 400 Top 5: 1. Ryan Blaney
2. William Byron
3. Kyle Larson
4. Kurt Busch
5. Denny Hamlin
FireKeepers Casino 400 Notables: 6. Matt Dibenedetto
10. Martin Truex Jr
26. Josh Berry
29. Tyler Reddick
Written By: Matt Marr