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NASCAR Cup Series: Blaney Beats Hendrick Bunch at Michigan

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images


Hosting just a single NASCAR Cup Series event for 2021, the two-mile oval of Michigan International Speedway features a wide, well-banked surface inviting for a high speed competition with several racing lines for drivers to explore.

The Hendrick Motorsport entries of Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott led the field of the 200-lap FireKeepers Casino 400 to green looking to put an end to a dry spell at the Michigan track. Jeff Gordon’s 2014 season win at the oval was the last Cup victory for the NASCAR superteam in the Irish Hills area. As a Chevrolet team Hendrick Motorsports was also trying to break Ford Motor Company’s streak of six consecutive wins by their stable of drivers entering the 2021 race weekend.

Photo Credit: Logan Riely/Getty Images

Chase Elliott won the race’s first stage at lap 60 while Kyle Busch took the second stage that ended in dramatic fashion. Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon battled for sixth place on the front stretch with Dillon’s #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet taking a low line on the track’s apron coming to the green checkered flag. Dillon edged out Keselowski’s #2 Penske Racing Ford at the line but contact occurred between the two cars almost instantly after the stage completion. As the front left of Keselowski’s car caught the right rear of Dillon’s machine, the #3 Chevrolet was turned into the outer track wall. Hitting the SAFER barrier hard enough that his BREZTRI-sponsored race car briefly had only two wheels on the ground, Austin Dillon would leave the accident unhurt but disappointed due to his competitiveness through the race up to the point of the crash.

With 19 laps remaining, the stock car field was slowed by a brief, light rain shower setting up a 13-lap sprint to the finish. On the lap of the restart, a multi-car wreck started with Tyler Reddick sliding loose in turn 3. While Reddick appeared to have recovered Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Ryan Newman and Josh Berry driving the #7 car were caught up in the chain reaction.

Taking the top spot on lap 193, Ryan Blaney and his #12 Menards/Cardell Cabinetry Ford Mustang successfully fended off the challenge of the two Hendrick Motorsport cars driven by Kyle Larson and William Byron to win the FireKeepers Casino 400 on the track once-owned by his team owner Roger Penske. With 20 lead changes among 11 drivers, Blaney only needed to lead the final eight circuits around Michigan International Speedway to grab his sixth career Cup Series victory.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates fought each other for the runner-up spot with Wiliam Byron’s #24 Axalta Chevrolet crossing the line ahead of Kyle Larson’s #5 Cincinnati Chevrolet. Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five. Still auditioning for a ride in 2022, Matt DiBenedetto ran in the top 10 for almost the entire afternoon and brought the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford Mustang home in sixth place.


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