Ryan Blaney Claims Checkered Flag in GEICO 500 at Talladega
Not even Mother Nature was capable of slowing down racing at Talladega this week. While rain postponed the race from Sunday afternoon to Monday, leaving plenty of time to ruminate about the noose left in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall, just 24 hours later, we had racing going. Racing at Talladega is normally known for fast speeds and plenty of entertainment and this year’s edition of the GEICO 500 didn’t disappoint by any stretch of the imagination. It was a race that went right down to the final few feet before you could be certain of who the winner was.
When the dust settled and the smoke cleared, it was Ryan Blaney winning his second straight race at Talladega. He prevailed by the smallest of margins, holding off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by a scant .007 seconds to take the checkered flag. Aric Almirola finished third while crossing the line nearly backward while Denny Hamlin was fourth and Erik Jones rounded out the top five. Jones ate the wall coming out of the final turn as Blaney did his best to hold him off and maintain the lead win what was a wild two-lap sprint coming out of caution. It capped a wild race that went 191 laps instead of the normal 188 so they could finish under green flag conditions.
There were a staggering 57 lead changes when all was said and done with 19 different drivers holding the lead for at least one lap in the race. Only Blaney (63), Joey Logano (33), Tyler Reddick (19), Hamlin (18), Alex Bowman (12) and William Byron (11) led double-digit laps while five different drivers held the lead for just a single lap. There was a total of eight caution flags in the race spanning a total of 33 laps when all was said and done.
Reddick claimed the first stage of the race while Stenhouse Jr. took the second stage. When the checkered flag came out, however, it was Blaney that earned the victory. Only Blaney, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Byron finished in the top 10 of each of the first two stages. Blaney (winner) was the only racer to finish in the top 10 in each of the first two stages and in the top 10 when the race ended. Kyle Busch finished 32nd, two laps down, while Keselowski logged a 19th-place showing and Byron ended up 11th.
If you were with us when we gave you Part I and Part II of our prop bets for the race and took a flier on some of what we threw out there, you had the chance of making some solid coin at the window. We called Blaney to win at +1100 odds based on his solid runs over the last few weeks and the fact that he won at Talladega last October. There was also the much smaller hit on Almirola finishing in the top 10 (+105) among the driver options. We also called Ford to be the manufacturer of the winning car (+115) as they hit victory lane for the ninth time in the last 10 races at Talladega. The lead changes prop went well over the projected number of 26.5, making that one an easy cash. Our toughest bad beat was on Almirola to finish as the leader in Group C (+240), as Stenhouse Jr. edged him for second while Almirola was third.
The next race will be the Pocono Organics 325 on Saturday from the Pocono Raceway on Saturday. This weekend will be a doubleheader weekend as the Pocono 350 will take place Sunday afternoon, making two races in a 24-hour span. Entering the race, Kevin Harvick continues to lead the point standings. He holds a 23-point margin over Joey Logano at this point while Blaney (25 points behind), Chase Elliott (32 points back) and Brad Keselowski (49 points behind) rounding out the top five.