Blaney wins at Atlanta after Larson fades on old tires

HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — Ryan Blaney understood he needed to let Kyle Larson go.

Perseverance was the secret, specifically on a day when Larson looked unsurpassable.

In the end, Larson faded on an battered set of tires, and Blaney raced by him for an unlikely success Sunday.

“I was not going to be able to stick with him,” Blaney stated. “I’ve got to save my tires … and see what happens.”

Blaney ended up being the 6th motorist to win in 6 races to begin NASCAR’s Cup season, rising to the front with 9 laps to pursue Larson quickly won the very first 2 phases and led 269 of 325 laps on the 1.54-mile trioval.

Larson’s tires didn’t withstand the penalizing track after making his last rest stop with 56 laps to go.

Blaney remained close sufficient to make his relocation, hugging the outdoors wall through the 4th turn and cutting to the within to pass Larson as they crossed the line in front of the primary grandstands.

Blaney retreated to win by 2.083 seconds in his No. 12 Group Penske Ford, having actually gone simply as long as Larson on the last set of tires however getting far more out of them.

“It’s cool to win at a place where you’ve got to finesse it a little bit and think about it,” Blaney said after his fifth career victory.

He led just 25 laps, but was out front for the one that mattered.

When it was over, Blaney strolled over to the stands and grabbed the checkered flag, which he handed to a young fan wearing the driver’s T-shirt.

It was a bitter loss for Larson, who missed a chance to become 2021’s first two-time winner after a victory at Las Vegas two weeks ago.

Still, he is off to a strong start in his new job at Hendrick Motorsports, less than a year after blurting out a racial slur on the livestream of a late-night video racing game, which cost him his job at Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I hate to lead a lot of laps and lose,” Larson said. “The car was stupid fast for a long time there.”

The Cup series went back to the track where the racing world came to a stop a year earlier.

In March 2020, Atlanta was the very first NASCAR Cup race to be held off since of the coronavirus pandemic.

This time, the race went off as arranged prior to a socially distanced crowd of about 20,000 — far listed below capability since of the remaining COVID-19 break out, however a welcome modification from last June when no fans were enabled Atlanta’s makeup race.

The Cup series will be back July 11, the very first time given that 2010 that Atlanta has actually hosted 2 races in a season.

WHO’S HOT

Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin continues to lead the season standings after another strong run. He was 4th behind Blaney, Larson and Alex Bowman.

Hamlin has actually ended up in the leading 5 in every race however Homestead, where he was 11th.

Still, he’s plainly annoyed about stopping working to take the leading area.

“We’re just not fast enough,” Hamlin stated. “We need more speed.”

WHO’S NOT

Stewart-Haas Racing is off to a hard start in 2021.

Kevin Harvick, who had actually won 2 of the last 3 races in Atlanta, was never ever in a mix after needing to make an additional rest stop early on to alter a flat that arised from a damaged tire stem.

He did fight back for a 10th-place surface.

The other Stewart-Haas motorists were even further back: Cole Custer 18th, Aric Almirola 20th and Chase Briscoe 23rd. None has actually split the leading 10 this season.

KURT’S CRASH

Kurt Busch had the appearance of a competitor up until the reboot to start the 2nd phase.

As the vehicles accumulated behind Larson, Busch got bumped from behind by Hamlin and knocked into the outdoors wall entering into turn one, sustaining heavy damage that ended the No. 1 Chevy’s day.

Busch yielded that Hamlin “didn’t do anything vicious or malicious,” however he was still checked off.

“These are the days that hurt the worst,” stated Busch, who ended up last in the 39-car field. “It’s a restart. Where are we gonna go, man? Just chill.”

CHASE FLOUNDERS

It was likewise a hard day for safeguarding Cup champ and home-state preferred Chase Elliott.

Arranged to begin with the 5th position, he needed to take the green from the back of the field after stopping working numerous evaluations prior to the race.

Then, soon after a reboot to start the last, Elliott’s No. 9 Chevy blew the engine coming off turn 4. The vehicle was pressed to the paddock with a 38th-place surface.

UP NEXT

The series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway next Sunday for the extremely prepared for dirt race on the half-mile oval.

It will be the very first dirt race for NASCAR’s leading racers given that 1970 — 2 years prior to a revamp of the series resulted in what is referred to as the modern-day Cup age.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be discovered at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.