Ryan Blaney rallies to win Michigan Cup race


Ryan Blaney took the lead on a restart with eight laps to go and went on to win Sunday’s Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in the closest finish at the track since the advent of electronic scoring.

Blaney beat William Byron by 0.077 seconds.

“That was cool,” Blaney told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “I’m fired up!”

It is Blaney’s second win of the season. His other win this season was at Atlanta in March. This marks the first in Blaney’s career he’s won multiple races in a season.

MORE: Race results, driver points

MORE: What drivers said

The key moment came on the final restart. Blaney was fourth to chose his lane. The top three cars took the outside lane. Blaney moved to the inside of the first row. On the restart, Byron, the leader, went wide in Turn 1 to block Denny Hamlin as Blaney charged on the inside and cleared both. Blaney kept the lead the rest of the way.

“He was so concerned with me, he lost the lead,” Hamlin told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns, referring to Byron.

Byron finished second. He was followed by Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch and Hamlin. Blaney’s win gave Ford its seventh in a row at Michigan.

“This was like a plate race in disguise,” Kurt Busch told NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman.

Kevin Harvick finished 14th. He clinched the 15th playoff spot, leaving one spot to be grabbed next weekend at Daytona. Tyler Reddick holds that final spot by 25 points on Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon, whose race turned dramatically after the second stage.

Dillon will need to win next weekend at Daytona in the final race of the regular season to make the playoffs after he crashed.

Dillon raced Brad Keselowski for sixth place in the second stage. After crossing the line to end the stage, the cars made contact, sending Dillon up the track. He slammed into the SAFER barrier. His car got on two wheels before coming back down. Dillon walked away from the incident.

“I didn’t want to do that,” Keselowski said on his team’s radio. “I didn’t want to wreck him. … I’m sorry about that.”

After the race, Keselowski said: “I hate that I had that contact with (Dillon). That really sucks for everybody. It really hurt our day and obviously ruined his. That was crappy. So it goes.”

Dillon told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns: “I was just trying to get as many stage points as I could get right there. Did a good job of sidedrafting and came down to the apron …  it was after the start/finish line. I was starting to come up off the apron because it was so rough down there. I figured by that point he would have given me a little room.

“I’m thankful that the good Lord kept me safe today. That was a heck of a wreck, but I feel fine. I hate it for … my guys. They built a rocket ship. They really wanted this one, and I did too. Was working our tails off right there. I think we would have had a shot to do something there at the end with that race car. Best race car we have brought to the track at RCR this year I feel like. Just a bummer. We’ve got Daytona left.

“Just hate it. I don’t know why it happened. I thought I had a little room to come up, and he just held me down there a little bit too long, I guess.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Elliott

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish marks the sixth race in a row he has finished 11th or better. … Kyle Larson’s third-place finish is the 10th time in the last 14 races he has placed in the top three. … Kyle Busch’s seventh-place finish is his ninth top 10 in a row at Michigan.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After placing third in the opening stage and sixth in the second stage, Austin Dillon wrecked after contact with Brad Keselowski and finished 36th. … Joey Logano finished 33rd after a late-race incident. That dropped Logano from sixth to eighth in the points.

NOTABLE: Josh Berry finished 26th driving in place of Corey LaJoie, who was out because of COVID protocols. Berry ran all three national races this weekend. He finished 15th in Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway. He was fourth in Saturday’s Xfinity race at Michigan, driving for Michael Annett, who continues to recover from leg surgery.

NEXT: The regular season ends Aug. 28 at Daytona International Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBC).

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.