NASCAR at Michigan 2021 Results: Ryan Blaney Holds Off William Byron for Win

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 22, 2021

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 22: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Cardell Cabinetry Ford, walks the grid driver introductions prior to the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 22, 2021 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Ryan Blaney collected his second checkered flag of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season in Sunday's FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Blaney held off William Byron and finished just 0.077 seconds ahead of the No. 24 car. It was the slimmest margin of victory in track history.


RETWEET to congratulate Ryan <a href="https://twitter.com/Blaney?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Blaney</a> on his WIN at <a href="https://twitter.com/MISpeedway?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MISpeedway</a>! <br><br>WHAT A FINISH! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> <a href="https://t.co/ML4uJBiOSy">pic.twitter.com/ML4uJBiOSy</a>

FireKeepers Casino 400 Leaderboard

1. Ryan Blaney

2. William Byron

3. Kyle Larson

4. Kurt Busch

5. Denny Hamlin

6. Matt DiBenedetto

7. Kyle Busch

8. Chase Elliott

9. Brad Keselowski

10. Martin Truex Jr.

Full leaderboard available via NASCAR.com

With 21 laps remaining, NASCAR officials called for a caution due to inclement weather making its way toward the track. The precipitation wasn't bad enough to halt the race entirely, which left some with a decision to make about one last pit stop before the final stretch.

Most of the drivers in contention stayed out, and the dilemma ultimately proved immaterial because a wreck involving multiple cars brought another caution.


WRECKING AGAIN! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a><br><br>We'll restart with less than 10 laps remaining. GET TO NBCSN NOW!<br><br>Stream: <a href="https://t.co/wKDI0aNMYn">https://t.co/wKDI0aNMYn</a> <a href="https://t.co/acBCeXOuwz">pic.twitter.com/acBCeXOuwz</a>

That set up an eight-lap duel to the finish line.

Byron, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson opted for the outside line at the restart. With some help from Kyle Busch, Blaney surged into the lead.

The hard part was only beginning, though, as he needed to fend off stiff challenges from Byron and Larson. The two Hendrick Motorsports teammates swapped the second and third positions as they threw everything they could at Blaney.

With the help of his spotter, the No. 12 quickly slammed the door whenever Byron or Larson seemed to have a path to first.

Because of his earlier win, Blaney's playoff outlook doesn't change much, which begins at the Cook Out Southern 500 on Sept. 5. Austin Dillon wasn't so fortunate.

With one stage to go, Sunday was shaping up nicely for Dillon. He had finished sixth in the second stage and looked poised to be at or near the top of the leaderboard when the checkered flag waved.

However, Brad Keselowski made contact with the No. 3 car. Dillon took a lot of damage and was unable to continue, finishing in 36th.


A HARD HIT for Austin Dillon at the end of Stage 2!<br><br>This puts him in a must-win situation next week at Daytona. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> <a href="https://t.co/fFxZseIlEX">pic.twitter.com/fFxZseIlEX</a>


Hear from <a href="https://twitter.com/austindillon3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AustinDillon3</a> after a tangle with Brad Keselowski takes him out of the running at <a href="https://twitter.com/MISpeedway?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MISpeedway</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NASCAR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NASCAR</a> x NBCSN <a href="https://t.co/oquxQUPO4G">pic.twitter.com/oquxQUPO4G</a>

The stakes couldn't be much higher for Dillon in the final race of the regular season. He sat 17th in the cup standings entering Sunday, 28 points behind Tyler Reddick for the final playoff spot.

Dillon didn't gain any ground with the day's race, so anything short of a victory in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and he'll finish out of the final 16.

Daytona International Speedway will host Saturday's pivotal event.

Reddick, Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are the only three drivers in a playoff position without a win this season. Of the trio, Reddick is the only one in real danger of falling out of the top 16.