The revolving door of winners in the 2021 NASCAR Cup season continued Sunday, with Ryan Blaney becoming the sixth different driver to win in six races.
Blaney stunned Kyle Larson down the stretch to steal a victory at the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500 in Atlanta.
Larson was dominant for most of the day. The first-year Hendrick Motorsports driver began the race in sixth place and quickly took control. He won the first two stages and opened up a three-second lead over the rest of the field with less than 40 laps to go.
Blaney put a dent into that margin with less than 20 laps to go, but that initially seemed to be part of Larson's strategy:
The Penske Racing driver was the only driver close Larson at that point. On Lap 311, Alex Bowman was the only other competitor within 10 seconds.
"It took us a little bit to get going," Blaney said on the Fox broadcast. "I was pretty free all day. We made a really good change to tighten me up where I needed it. Kyle was getting loose. I'm happy it worked in our favor that there was a couple long runs at the end there; that's where our strength was."
The No. 5 Chevrolet looked to be on track for his second victory of the season after winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago.
Instead, Blaney kept making up ground down the stretch and seized the moment when an opportunity presented itself. The victory ended a 28-race winless drought for the No. 12 Ford dating back to last June.
The 27-year-old got a much-needed boost in the standings. He began the day in 13th place, 102 points behind points leader Denny Hamlin.
Larson, Bowman, Hamlin and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five finishers at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR Cup Series will head to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee for the first Cup race on dirt since 1970 next Sunday.