Blaney steals Nationwide win from Busch at Bristol
Blaney, the driver of the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske and the 20-year old son of NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney, was not much of a factor in this 300-lap race until the late going when he benefited from the final two cautions. He passed rookie Ty Dillon for second following a restart with 13 laps to go and then chased down Busch for the lead.
Busch, the pole sitter, grabbed the top spot from Kyle Larson after a restart on lap 196 and then took command from there until Blaney made his winning pass. Blaney beat Busch to finish line by only 0.13 seconds.
"Kyle didn't go on that [last] restart," Blaney said. "He said his tires were jacked up. When he got to the second [yellow] line, I went. You can go. Luckily, I was able to hold him off...It was one heck of a race. We won at Bristol."
Busch was attempting to win his record fourth straight and eighth overall Nationwide race at Bristol. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had led 161 of 300 laps.
"I couldn't get by Larson on a single-lane racetrack. It's pathetic," Busch said. "But once I did get a position on him, kinda sorta, you just gotta try to move the guy out of the way, so I kind of forced him high and got clear of him. And that was sort of gonna be the race until the last restart when my rear tires weren't on the racetrack, and I couldn't accelerate forward."
During his post-race press conference, Busch questioned the final restart and NASCAR's handling of it.
"The 22 [Blaney] was about five miles per hour faster than me by the first double-yellow stripe, and I didn't go because I didn't want to go, but everybody behind me is trying to go because they're following the 22," Busch said. "I'm trying to wait for him to stop, so then I can go by the single-red mark on the wall.
"It's stupid. NASCAR doesn't police it, and so everybody keeps jacking around on it. One of these days, I'm just gonna lock all four down and stack the whole field up."
Blaney's second Nationwide win came in his 24th start. His maiden victory in the series occurred in September 2013 at Kentucky. Blaney is a full-time competitor in the Camping World Truck Series this season, driving the No. 29 Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing. He has won twice in that series as well.
With 20 laps remaining, Blaney got loose and bumped into Larson while the two were battling for position. Larson spun around several times on the track and collected rookie Dylan Kwasniewski, his teammate at Turner Scott Motorsports.
"I have to apologize to Kyle Larson," Blaney said. "I just got loose on the bottom [of the track] and got into him. I'm really sorry about that."
Larson, who ended up finishing 26th, was furious with Blaney. He had led 46 laps earlier in the race.
"When we went into [turn] 1, I thought he was going to chase me up to the top of the track, but he just ran me into the wall," Larson said. "It sucks. We had a really good car. The 22 pretty much ruined our day, and it looks like he ruined our teammate's day. Dylan was doing really good."
Chase Elliott, the current points leader, finished third, followed by Dillon and Regan Smith. Elliott now holds a 13-point advantage over Smith, his teammate at JR Motorsports.
Brendan Gaughan placed sixth, while Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, James Buescher and Chris Buescher, who won last weekend's race at Mid-Ohio, completed the top-10.
Dillon moved up to third in the standings. He trails Elliott by 30 points. Elliott Sadler dropped to fourth (-42) following his 29th-place finish. Sadler was involved in a crash with Timmy Hill on lap 189. Shortly after, he cut a tire and made contact with the wall.
The start of this race was delayed a little more than an hour due to rain.