Bumping and grinding sheet metal has long been part of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway and Ryan Blaney proved that it still is. Sometimes that style of racing, and a horrible restart by the leader, can help a young driver steal a win from one of the best drivers in the sport.
After a caution flag, Blaney and Kyle Busch lined up for the restart with only a handful of laps to go in the NASCAR Nationwide Series running of the Food City 300. When the green flag dropped on the final laps Blaney jumped ahead of Busch heading into turn one and never looked back.
Busch seemed to lie back, later complaining that he was hit from behind and lifted off the track, as Blaney shot ahead. Busch tried to catch back up to the new race leader and appeared to close the gap on each lap. Blaney, son of veteran driver Dave Blaney, won each battle for the lead as the two hit the front stretch as Busch continued his assault when the white flag flew signaling one lap to go.
Blaney fought off the final surge from Busch in the first turns and held a car length lead heading out of turn four. At no time was it clear that Blaney would be able to hold on for the win but he did in the final seconds. Busch, who had dominated much of the race, finished second. Blaney said Kyle was so good that he and his team were just trying to figure out how to secure second.
"It's awesome to be here in Bristol in Victory Lane," Blaney said. "Really I was worrying about salvaging second because Kyle was so good ... But we were ready for our opportunity. Luckily we got it and we were able to take advantage of it."
After appearing to have the race well in hand during much of the evening Kyle Busch was relegated to a second place finish. It was apparent from the moment that Kyle stepped from his car that he was upset about how things shuffled out during the last restart.
When the cars rounded turn four and made their way towards the starting stripes. Busch’s car seemed to slow down giving the appearance that he would play a mind game with Blaney on the restart. Instead, Busch was tapped from behind as the rest of the field picked up speed. Blaney then shot ahead as Busch struggled to pick up speed. Busch commented on the finish and the restart rules.
“The leader is always at the biggest disadvantage,” Busch said. "The 22 (Blaney) was five mph faster than me by the first double stripe. I didn’t go because I didn’t want to go, but everybody behind me is trying to go. It’s stupid. One of these days I’m going to lock all four down and stack the whole field up. You’re supposed to be nose-to-nose on the restart. When the leader picks up pace, everybody else (is supposed to) pick up pace.”
With fewer than twenty laps to go Kyle Larson, one of the only drivers to mount a serious challenge to Busch all night long, and Blaney tangled up. The wreck took Larson out of contention for a win and involved Larson's own Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Dylan Kwasniewski. Larson said that Blaney got loose and sent him spinning. Immediately after the wreck Blaney was heard over the radio apologizing. Larson took the incident in stride stating with a grin that “Blaney is a good kid!”