Hendrick Motorsports cars dominated in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway, as they led 156 of the 200 laps, but in the end, it was Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney who emerged victorious.
Blaney snagged the lead from William Byron with eight laps remaining in the race, and he was able to hold off Byron and his HMS teammate Kyle Larson over the final eight circuits to score the victory by just 0.077 sec.
“We got a great push by [Kyle Busch] on the restart and we were able to get clear there,” Blaney explained. “Michigan is just a matter of pretty much running wide open and just playing the air game. I hate that you have to race that way, but that’s how you have to run. It worked out for us.”
Here is video of the last lap of the race:
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) August 22, 2021
This is Blaney’s second win of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season — the first time Blaney has ever won multiple races in a year — and it’s his sixth career NCS win.
Following the race, Blaney kept a tradition going that has become customary when he wins a NASCAR National Series event. Blaney handed the checkered flag to a young fan through the fence.
Byron ended up finishing second, but even with missing out on a win, he had fun on Sunday.
“It was fun. It was kind of like a speedway race,” Byron said. “I was backing up to him off of four to get a run with about two to go. Unfortunately, he kind of ran the bottom, so he didn’t have any momentum to push me. I didn’t really know what to do. You can only block so many lanes. I tried to block the top and cost myself first.”
Larson ended the day in third, and he chalks his finish up to a few bad moves down the stretch.
“I was able to get to second, and just made a couple of bad moves, I guess,” Larson said. “I think honestly, a little too patient behind the 12. And could have made some later dives, I guess, to the inside. Who knows, I need to watch the replay. Just made a couple of wrong moves and allowed William to get by me.”
Kurt Busch, who made an incredible save after contact with Matt DiBenedetto on lap 69, rallied to finish fourth.
Denny Hamlin came home in fifth.
DiBenedetto, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Tyler Reddick spun late in the race with a flat tire, which relegated him to a 29th-place finish. With one race left until the Playoffs begin, Reddick holds a 25-point advantage over his teammate Austin Dillon for the final Playoff berth.
Kevin Harvick locked his place in the 2021 Playoffs on Sunday by way of points.
Sunday’s race featured 20 lead changes among 11 leaders, and the race was slowed six times for caution.
The first caution of the day came on lap 20, it was a scheduled competition caution. There were three cautions due to accidents.
Joey Gase blew a tire and pounded the outside wall on lap 30:
While Austin Dillon was turned head-on into the wall by Brad Keselowski on lap 120:
And a seven-car melee ensued on lap 186:
The race also went to caution due to rain at lap 179.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.