By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Menards/Sylvania Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney won the GEICO 500 on Monday at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Blaney won the race by .007 seconds at the finish line.
Blaney was involved in a crash-filled final lap that saw several drivers dash for the finish line with mere feet to go in overtime. The Team Penske driver was mere inches in front of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the conclusion of the race.
While this is Blaney’s first win of the 2020 season, He now has two straight wins at Talladega Superspeedway, as he also won the race last fall at the facility. In addition, this is his fourth win of his career.
The High Point, North Carolina native has had one win each of the last four seasons. He has four wins in 175 career Cup Series starts.
“I’ve never been too wild of a celebration guy,” Blaney said. “Yeah, it was definitely exciting. I was thinking of what I could have done better. The 20 and I kind of made contact there, kind of banged doors. I didn’t really mean to go up there and bang his door. I was trying to get close to him to slow him down. I saw him hit the wall hard. I was a little concerned about that, if he was okay. Definitely wasn’t my intention to hit him. I thought we were just going to kind of get close. We kind of met in the middle of the racetrack.
“No, there’s a lot of stuff going through your head from how the race ended. We were fortunate to be the winner. What happened the last couple days, I was just thinking about that, too. With Bubba coming up beside me after the race, that meant a lot. It showed his support. It was cool to see him after I got done with the start/finish line deal. Yeah, just a lot going through your head, man. It’s a good day. I’m really happy to be able to win the race. Yeah, just thinking about some stuff with Darrell and things like that, how the race ended. Yeah, that was kind of I guess the reason.”
Besides Stenhouse Jr., who finished second, Aric Almirola finished third. The Virginia-based driver was spinning from a crash when he crossed the line, before Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones, who rounded out the Top 5.
Before the race, Blaney along with the NASCAR community showed support for Bubba Wallace. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver, who has been outspoken in June, had to deal with a noose in the stall following Sunday’s postponement. Wallace reportedly did not see the noose.
Wallace was also outspoken for the ban of the Confederate flag. NASCAR banned the flag on June 10th — two days after Wallace asked for the ban.
The mixed-race driver, who is recognized as NASCAR’s lone African-American driver, was emotional before and after the race.
“Definitely a good ending to the day for sure on our end, being able to inch them out there at the line,” Blaney said. “But the start of the day, all the drivers on pit road pushing Bubba’s car, showing their support, it was just an honor to be a part of that. Not only the drivers, but the crew members and the fans that were in attendance as well, NASCAR. That’s something I think everyone will remember for a long time. It showed how much we support not only Darrell. That was the main reason we were doing it, to support Darrell. But everybody that has been oppressed not only for the past two weeks but for a long time.
“What happened yesterday was disgusting. I don’t understand how a person or people can have that hatred in their heart for someone who just looks different than they do. Never something I’ll understand. It almost brought me to tears when Bubba told me yesterday what happened. He doesn’t deserve that. No one deserves that. But I think the good thing is us as a community came together, showed our support. I know he really appreciated it. It was the least we can do to show we’re behind him 100%. I’m obviously going to be behind him 100%. I have been for 15 years, I hope to make it 50 more years supporting him every step along the way. That was definitely a special moment to be a part of before the race.”
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