Nothing like a little bit of NASCAR drama under the lights on a Friday night.
Ryan Blaney stole the lead from Kyle Busch with six laps remaining on a restart and held him off for a thrilling finish. Less than 0.2 seconds separated the top two finishers at the Nationwide Series: Food City 300.
Bristol Motor Speedway captured the victory moment:
Here is a look at Blaney and the top 10 finishers and the subsequent standings after the race:
|Place||Driver||Time Behind Leader|
Incredibly enough, Blaney only led the race for a mere seven laps as Busch and Chase Elliott dueled it out. Busch led for 161 laps, while Elliott led for 59. However, Blaney seized his opportunity when it presented itself late in the competition and walked away with the victory.
There was a lengthy rain delay that pushed the race back.
Busch entered the competition as the favorite after registering three wins already this season. He also captured the Nationwide pole for the race, which only further boosted his momentum. He talked about grabbing that pole position, via Chris Estrada of NBC Sports:
It was quite eventful to be honest with you, but that’s pretty quick around here for these Nationwide cars.
…[Crew chief] Adam [Stevens] and the guys again have done a nice job this weekend, so we’ll see if we can capitalize on what we’ve got right now and see if we can win here after 300 laps.
He played the part of favorite perfectly in the early going and jumped out to the initial lead. NASCAR's official Twitter account captured the moment though when he lost his lead:
However, Elliott Sadler didn't enjoy that lead throughout the race. He ran into some serious trouble as the competition entered the stretch run, as NASCAR Nationwide pointed out:
Caution 7 – Elliott Sadler accident on frontstretch; Laps 224-228 ,5 total laps of caution. Reed was beneficiary. #NASCAR— NASCAR Nationwide (@NASCAR_NNS) August 23, 2014
By the middle of the race, Busch was caught up in a close competition with Kyle Larson, among others. NASCAR Nationwide kept fans alert of the proceedings:
There was an established foursome that was competing for position at the head of the pack by lap 262. Busch led the way with Ty Dillon, Larson and points leader Elliott chasing. Having the points leader, the recently dominant Busch and a marquee name like Larson up front in the race's crunch time certainly had the spectators that remained through the rain delay on the edge of their seats.
Adding to the tension was the fact that Bristol is a short and unpredictable track.
Nobody understood that more Friday evening than Larson, who crashed by the outside wall with less than 20 laps remaining. It ended his chance at victory and was a difficult way to end what was an impressive race. To make matters worse, it was the eventual champion Blaney who ran him into that wall.
It set up a thrilling finish though, as Blaney came charging ahead on the restart with six laps remaining to take the lead over Busch. It was a two-car race to the finish, and Blaney held Busch off for the victory. Considering he only led for seven laps, it really was unexpected and highlighted just how unpredictable Bristol racing can be on any given night.
While Blaney was clearly the big winner Friday, Elliott's performance sets him up well looking forward.
He is already the points leader as it is, and a third-place finish puts even more distance between him and the majority of the rest of the pack. If he continues to perform like this, it will be very difficult for anyone to catch him as the season heads into the final stretch.
However, Blaney was the one making headlines at Bristol on this night, and rightfully so. He was an unexpected winner, which is only fitting for the unpredictable Bristol track.
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