NASCAR

Charlotte roval NASCAR: Blaney wins as Truex and Johnson collide

Ryan Blaney snatched victory in the Charlotte ‘roval’ NASCAR Cup Series race after leaders Martin Truex Jr and Jimmie Johnson collided at the final corner.

Blaney had been running third while Truex and Johnson battled for position in a three-lap dash to the finish line after a late red flag.

Truex held the lead and looked set for the victory when Johnson locked up and spun at the final corner as he made a last-gasp bid for the lead.

Johnson’s Hendrick Chevrolet went backwards across the chicane and clipped the back of Truex’s Furniture Row Toyota, sending the champion into a spin and allowing Blaney to come through to claim his second Cup victory and first in a championship round with Penske.

The incident cost Johnson his position in the playoffs. Though tied on points with Kyle Larson and Aric Almirola, he falls back to 13th when best race finish is taken into account as a tie breaker.

The late race chaos started when Ricky Steinhouse Jr hit the wall at the first corner with just eight laps remaining, bringing out another caution.

Brad Keselowski, in the race lead, opted not to pit, and led Larson and Truex into what would be the penultimate restart.

Keselowsi – who had until that point enjoyed a tough battle with Larson – locked up and ran into the wall at the first corner on the restart, and was followed by a number of other drivers, including Larson and Kyle Busch.

With dozens of cars stranded on track, the decision was made to red flag the race to clear the incident.

The final restart played into the hands of a number of drivers on the bubble of the cut off, including Clint Bowyer and Alex Bowman, who finished third and fourth behind Jamie McMurray.

Kurt Busch enjoyed a strong start to the race, battling with Larson for the stage one win, but fell backwards in the midpart of the race, eventually coming home in fifth.

Chase Elliot took sixth ahead of AJ Allmendinger, who endured a chaotic race.

The outgoing JTG Daugherty Chevrolet driver had been running in the back end of the top 10 after a caution period brought out when Austin Dillon slammed into the wall to avoid a slow moving Chris Buescher.

As the field bunched up for the restart, Allmendinger collided with Denny Hamlin, causing his bodywork to rub against his tyres and dropping him down the order before he regained ground in the late chaos.

Johnson got going again to take the chequered flag in eighth, ahead of Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano.

Dillon, Hamlin and Erik Jones joined Johnson in being eliminated from title contention after the race.

Larson looked in jeopardy following the restart crash, but limped to the finish in 25th to secure his place in the next round of the championship fight.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps
1 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 109
2 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 109
3 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 109
4 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 109
5 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 109
6 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 109
7 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 109
8 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 109
9 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 109
10 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 109
11 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 109
12 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 109
13 Matt DiBenedetto Go FAS Racing Ford 109
14 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 109
15 Regan Smith Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 109
16 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 109
17 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 109
18 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 109
19 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 109
20 Cole Whitt TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 109
21 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 109
22 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 109
23 Daniel Hemric Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 109
24 Ross Chastain Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 109
25 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 109
26 Jeffrey Earnhardt Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 109
27 Justin Marks Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 108
28 J.J. Yeley BK Racing Toyota 108
29 Landon Cassill StarCom Racing Chevrolet 108
30 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 108
31 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 103
32 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 103
33 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 103
34 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 103
35 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 103
36 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 103
37 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 100
38 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Toyota 70
39 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 64
40 Stanton Barrett Rick Ware Racing Ford 11

Playoff standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Kyle Busch 3055
2 Kevin Harvick 3050
3 Martin Truex Jr. 3038
4 Brad Keselowski 3025
5 Clint Bowyer 3015
6 Joey Logano 3014
7 Kurt Busch 3014
8 Ryan Blaney 3013
9 Chase Elliott 3008
10 Kyle Larson 3006
11 Aric Almirola 3001
12 Alex Bowman 3000

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