NASCAR Cup Series

Ryan Blaney scores third Talladega win in photo finish, Harvick disqualified

4 Mins read
Credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Ryan Blaney is a three-time NASCAR Cup Series winner at Talladega Superspeedway, even if it meant taking years off his life as each victory came down to a dramatic photo finish. After winning in 2019 and 2020 by .007 seconds, he added his third with a margin of just .012.

Sunday’s YellaWood 500 was a mad scramble even uncharacteristic for Talladega with seventy lead changes, the seventh most in series history, between twenty-four drivers. Blaney and Kevin Harvick led a pair of lines in the final two laps before the former found a run exiting turn two to take the lead.

After committing to the inside, Blaney retook the lead with William Byron pushing before Harvick and Riley Herbst closed the gap on the otuside. Coming to the finish, Herbst and Chase Elliott were hit and spun in front of the pack. As the field wrecked behind them, Blaney and Harvick surged ahead with the former narrowly on top.

“We did a good job of positioning ourselves up towards the front there,” said Blaney. “After we made a mistake at Stage #2 and lost track position, we did a really good job and had a good pit stop and was able to start in the front two rows. The last restart, I guess, the #36 did a great job. Riley did a really good job of pushing me kind of where I needed it, especially when we were leading the top lane. He hasn’t run too many Cup races at all, and I think the only other speedway he has run is maybe Daytona a month ago. So he did a really good job of kind of understanding where to get on me and carry momentum. So appreciate him for that. He did a good job.

“I think the biggest thing was getting clear to the bottom down the back stretch in front of the #24 (Byron) to get alongside the #4 (Harvick). That made it to where, okay, now it’s a drag race between he and I. The biggest job too was making sure the #24 didn’t get clear, so I kind of had to drag brake to make sure the #4 stayed outside the #24 to make sure one of us won and made sure the #24 couldn’t jump outside of me and made sure I had his help.

“Just a neat day, fun day. It’s always fun to win these things, and you have to appreciate them because they’re so hard to do. We hung in there all day, and fun to drag race Kevin there at the end. I hate it had to be us to beat him at his final speedway race, but it was definitely fun to race with someone like that, especially coming down to the end where it gets pretty wild.”

Ironically, Blaney would have won annyway even if Harvick edged him out. After the race, Harvick’s #4 failed post-race inspection because the bolts keeping his windshield in place were not tightened. According to crew chief Rodney Childers“every bolt was still in” with thirty laps remaining before two came off ten laps later.

“There have been times I’ve got caught doing something I shouldn’t have,” wrote Childers in a since-deleted tweet“Today got DQ’d for the car buffering in the draft all day and some windshield bolts vibrating out. My guys had silicon on the threads and gobbed on the tip. Still came out. Not sure what else we could do.”

The disqualification was the first in any NASCAR national series in 2023 and the first in the Cup Series since Brad Keselowski was busted at the 2022 Xfinity 500. While it spoils Harvick’s final race at Talladega, his Stewart-Haas Racing team does not intend to file an appeal.

“At the completion of the race, not all of our windshield fasteners were secure, as we had bolts that hold the windshield in place back out over the course of the 500 miles. We are in the process of diagnosing why this happened and how to prevent it moving forward,” reads a statement from SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli“We are disappointed in NASCAR’s decision to disqualify our racecar and the hard-earned finish by our driver and team, but we will not appeal. Our complete focus is on the remaining races on this year’s schedule.”

Race results

11012Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord188Running
2824William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
31211Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota188Running
4367Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
572Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord188Running
63031Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet188Running
7239Chase Elliott^Hendrick MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
81941Ryan PreeceStewart-Haas RacingFord188Running
9636Riley Herbst*Front Row MotorsportsFord188Running
102899Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet188Running
113413Chandler Smith*Kaulig RacingChevrolet188Running
121738Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord188Running
13314Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord188Running
141520Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota188Running
1545Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
161345Tyler Reddick23XI RacingToyota188Running
17110Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord188Running
181619Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota188Running
192417Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord188Running
203116A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet188Running
211834Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord188Running
223547Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet188Running
23923Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota188Running
24222Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord188Running
25258Kyle BuschRichard Childress RacingChevrolet188Running
262643Erik JonesLegacy Motor ClubChevrolet188Running
273377Ty DillonSpire MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
282048Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet188Running
293778B.J. McLeod*Live Fast MotorsportsChevrolet187Running
302915Brennan Poole*Rick Ware RacingFord186Running
312121Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord175Suspension
3256Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord161Accident
33143Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet161Accident
342254Ty Gibbs #Joe Gibbs RacingToyota161Accident
353842Carson Hocevar*Legacy Motor ClubChevrolet161Accident
362751J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingFord83Fuel Pump
37321Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet59Accident
38114Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord188Running (DSQ)
Bold – Currently in playoffs
^ – Currently in owner playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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