NASCAR at Atlanta 2021 Results: Ryan Blaney Wins After Passing Kyle Larson Late

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 21, 2021

Ryan Blaney drives during a NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Hampton, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

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.


RETWEET to congratulate @Blaney on his first win of 2021! https://t.co/0HBHEniCbi

Darian Gilliam @BlackFlagMatter

Ryan Blaney scores his 1st Cup win of 2021 at Atlanta! (5th career win) Has now won in the Cup Series for 5 straight seasons (2017-2021) and is the 6th winner in the first 6 races of 2021! #NASCAR

PRN @PRNlive

Unofficial Top 10 at @amsupdates: 1. Ryan Blaney 2. Kyle Larson 3. Alex Bowman 4. Denny Hamlin 5. Kyle Busch 6. Austin Dillon 7. Chris Buescher 8. William Byron 9. Martin Truex Jr. 10. Kevin Harvick #FOHQT500


NEW LEADER: BLANEY What a battle. 👁👁 https://t.co/ivaAOiLws8

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. 


STAGE WINNER: @KyleLarsonRacin was in the mood for some spring cleaning this morning. He sweeps the first two stages at @amsupdates! https://t.co/G2oJxbqNsZ

Atlanta Motor Speedway @amsupdates

Your leader Kyle Larson ripping the high line with 35 to go! #FOHQT500 https://t.co/Me5C6Y5QEJ

PRN @PRNlive

Kyle Larson led 269 laps but it was all for naught as he comes home P2 after being passed in the closing laps at @amsupdates #FOHQT500

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:

PRN @PRNlive

.@BradGillie has an update on Kyle Larson -- His lead is only 2 seconds because he's trying to save his tires and not push it too hard. Crew chief Cliff Daniels told him only go as fast as he needs to to keep Ryan Blaney an arm's length away #FOHQT500


.@Blaney has closed to gap to under one second with less than 20 to go! https://t.co/fHx7AGewR2

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."

PRN @PRNlive

Ryan Blaney tells @WendyVenturini: "The 5 was crazy fast there all race. We started closing in, our car got a lot better towards the end of Stage 2...Really came to life and he was starting to struggle."

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