Ryan Blaney got by a spinning Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson in the final turn to win Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Johnson locked up the rears and spun and made contact with race leader Truex Jr. as the duo navigated the final chicane heading to the checkered flag. They both spun wildly allowing Blaney to race by and take his first checkered flag of the season.
“Just surprised, happy, relieved a little bit,” Blaney said. “We put ourselves in a spot there to restart up front and capitalize. You hate to see other people get caught up in wrecks like that but sometimes it’s better for luck to be on your side. It hasn’t been on our side lately.”
Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.
Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger, Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano completed the first 10 finishers.
Kyle Larson and Blaney won the first two stages. Stage Points
Round Two of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs kicks off next Sunday at Dover International Speedway.
See Also: Pete Pistone’s Rear-View Mirror
How Blaney Won: “We were in the right spot at the right time,” he said after the race and could not have been more correct. As Truex Jr. and Johnson battled for the win Blaney sat safely in third place and pounced on the opportunity when the duo crashed.
Who Had a Good Day: Kyle Larson and Aric Almirola made the playoffs cut thanks to a tiebreaker. The duo was tied with Johnson but by virtue of better finishes in the second round Larson and Almirola advanced. Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. also advanced to Round 2 along with first round winners Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Blaney.
Who Had a Bad Day: Johnson had his playoff hopes evaporate with the last lap crash that knocked him from the championship picture (Read More)…Austin Dillon had a few encounters on track that finally got the best of the Daytona 500 winner with a late accident and he was eliminated from the playoffs…Denny Hamlin had to start the race in a backup car and come from the rear of the field but he too was involved in a number of incidents during the race and dropped out of the playoff picture…His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones had a similar scenario with a backup car and elimination from the race and playoffs…A huge accident late brought out a red flag when Brad Keselowski, Larson, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, William Byron, Trevor Bayne, Daniel Hemric and Almirola all were involved racing through the first turn.
What Else Happened: Drivers has practiced and qualified on the new hybrid course but did not know exactly what to expect until the green flag flew. As most predicted restarts were highly contested especially as cars were forced to funnel down off the frontstretch through the new first turn. But once the initial tight quarters subsided, there were more than a few stretches with cars strung out around the course. Inexperience was definitely a huge impact on how drivers approached racing at the Roval.
Quotable: “I guess all of us are just stupid,” Kyle Busch on the multi-car crash that brought out the red flag.
Notables: Blaney scored his first road course win…He became the 11th different winner in 2018…McMurray scored his best finish of the season.