Ryan Blaney takes late lead, wins QuikTrip 500
Blaney got that final lead when he passed Kyle Larson, who had dominated the race until that point.
The margin of victory for the Team Penske driver over Larson, who had led 269 of 325 laps, was 2.08 seconds.
The victory was the fifth of Blaney’s 204-race career.
Larson was looking to become the first driver to win twice on the season.
Alex Bowman, Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, finished third.
Fourth was Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing while his teammate, Kyle Busch, who had to overcome a speeding penalty, was fifth.
Defending Series champion and Georgia native Chase Elliott started out badly only to have things turn worse. The Hendrick Motorsports driver failed pre-race inspection and was forced to start the race from the rear of the field. On lap 37, he was back in the top 10.
But on a restart on Lap 113, his car suffered front-end damage when the field accordioned behind Kyle Busch. Then, on Lap 220, his engine blew up.
Kevin Harvick, a three-time winner at the track who has won two of the last three at Atlanta, had a rough day. As the race was about to go green after the competition caution on Lap 25, Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing car got a flat tire and he had to head back to the pits.
He stayed on the lead lap, but with 27 laps to go in the first stage, leader Larson passed him to put Harvick a lap down. He got back on the lead lap when he took a wave-around during a caution on Lap 220. He chipped away and came home 10th.
Kurt Busch, also a three-time winner in Georgia, was running seventh when he was spun into the wall on a restart by Hamlin on Lap 113 and his day over.
“Like, dude, this a 500-miler,” Busch said of Hamlin. “It’s a restart. Where we going to go. Just chill.”
Next week, the series head to Bristol for Cup’s first race on dirt in over 50 years.