Ryan Blaney barely beats Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ahead of multiple last-lap crashes at Talladega

Ryan Blaney took the lead as a crash happened entering Turn 3 on the final lap at Talladega and then somehow stayed ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as Erik Jones and Aric Almirola crashed as the field hit the finish line.

“[Jones] got to my outside and I tried to slow him down. I’m not sure if I was three-wide? I hate that I hit him,” Blaney said.

Blaney kept Jones at bay after passing Kevin Harvick for the lead entering the final two corners as cars wrecked behind him. As NASCAR didn’t throw a caution for that first crash, Blaney was ahead of the field and had to hold off a run from Jones, who smashed into the outside wall after the two drivers made contact when Blaney forced Jones up the track.

After Jones hit the wall, Stenhouse almost got Blaney at the finish line. This is how close it was. Blaney is the yellow and black car. Jones is the red and white car in the wall. That’s Aric Almirola spinning off the screen to the right. He finished third somehow.

This is how it looked as Ryan Blaney won. (via Fox)

Bubba Wallace finishes 14th

Wallace moved his way into the top 10 for the final 25 laps of Monday’s race but was ultimately short on fuel. He pitted when a caution came out with three laps to go and worked his way up to 14th over the final two green-flag laps.

After the race, Wallace walked across the track to greet the limited number of fans in the grandstands. He high-fived a group of Black fans who had gathered at the catchfence. At least two of the fans were wearing shirts that said Black Lives Matter.

“This is probably the most badass moment right here,” Wallace said after greeting the fans. “It’s been tough. It’s been hell. I really shouldn’t say hell. It’s just been hectic. Carrying this weight and carrying this burden — I really wouldn’t say burden either.”

He then gestured to the fans who he said were from Atlanta and attending their first race.

“The sport is changing. The deal that happened yesterday — sorry I’m not wearing my mask, but I wanted to show whoever it was that you’re not going to take away my smile and I’m going to keep on going.”

Blaney had one of the race’s best cars

Blaney’s win was no fluke. He ran up front nearly the entire race as all three of Team Penske’s cars were fantastic when they drafted together.

But Blaney lost that track position when he pitted on the final lap of a lap 143 caution to top off his fuel tank. With 42 scheduled green-flag laps left in the race, Blaney’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, figured his driver wouldn’t have to stop for fuel again if they did that.

Gordon was right. Blaney was able to save fuel while riding in the pack over a 40-lap green-flag run before the race’s final caution and had moved back toward the front of the field before Jimmie Johnson went spinning off Kevin Harvick’s bumper.

Blaney then had the good fortune of getting past Harvick as NASCAR declined to throw a caution when Martin Truex Jr. and Corey LaJoie collided on the final lap. Had NASCAR thrown a caution for that crash — not an unreasonable assumption, either — Harvick would have been the winner because he was ahead of Blaney when the wreck happened.

But NASCAR didn’t wave the yellow flag. And that set up a chaotic finish that saw Blaney slam Jones into the wall to keep himself in front.

The win is Blaney’s second straight victory at Talladega. He beat Ryan Newman to the finish line in the fall in another door-banging ending.

“I want the weekend to be remembered by, I don't know, I guess a good word would be 'unity', everyone coming together and showing support,” Blaney said. “I hate focusing on the bad things because that's what gets a rise out of people. But I feel like what everyone has said the last day has really shown that it's not going to be tolerable any more.  We're all going to stand behind the people who are mistreated. That just shows what a family we are.”

“We're competitors all on the racetrack, but at the end of the day we're one big traveling family. We're going to support anybody who we compete with. If they get threatened in a way, we're going to have their back.”

Full results

1. Ryan Blaney

2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

3. Aric Almirola

4. Denny Hamlin

5. Erik Jones

6. Chris Buescher

7. Alex Bowman

8. John Hunter Nemechek

9. Kurt Busch

10. Kevin Harvick

11. William Byron

12. Ty Dillon

13. Jimmie Johnson

14. Bubba Wallace

15. Ryan Preece

16. Corey LaJoie

17. Joey Logano

18. Michael McDowell

19. Brad Keselowski

20. Tyler Reddick

21. Brendan Gaughan

22. Cole Custer

23. Ryan Newman

24. Martin Truex Jr. 

25. Clint Bowyer

26. Matt DiBenedetto

27. Quin Houff

28. Daniel Suarez

29. Christopher Bell

30. Gray Gaulding

31. BJ McLeod

32. Kyle Busch

33. Timmy Hill

34. Garrett Smithley

35. Brennan Poole

36. JJ Yeley

37. Joey Gase

38. Chase Elliott

39. Austin Dillon

40. Matt Kenseth

Points standings

1. Kevin Harvick, 490 points

2. Joey Logano, 467

3. Ryan Blaney, 465

4. Chase Elliott, 458

5. Brad Keselowski, 441

6. Denny Hamlin, 428

7. Martin Truex Jr., 423

8. Alex Bowman, 419

9. Kyle Busch, 378

10. Kurt Busch, 396

11. Jimmie Johnson, 353

12. Aric Almirola, 337

13. Clint Bowyer, 328

14. William Byron, 319

15. Matt DiBenedetto, 312

16. Tyler Reddick, 306

17. Erik Jones, 305

18. Austin Dillon, 282

19. Chris Buescher, 266

20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 263

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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