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Ryan Blaney wins Cup Series at Atlanta

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – MARCH 21: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson dominated much of the race, but a late lap pass by Ryan Blaney was enough to seal the deal for the 12 team.

The race began with JGR teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex jr. leading the front of the pack for the 500-mile race. Hamlin jumped out to an early lead, while Truex fell back off of a bad initial start. After the competition caution, Kyle Larson won the race off of pit road and joined Denny Hamlin upfront on the restart; while Kevin Harvick had to re-pit due to a flat tire before the restart kicked off.

Off the restart, Kyle Larson jumped out ahead of Denny Hamlin as he fell back a few spots while Larson’s number 5 car quickly extended their lead. With 42 laps to go in stage 1, Denny Hamlin was the first car to pit and most of the cars towards the front of the pack, including Kyle Larson, followed suit.

Kyle Larson led most of stage 1 and had over a 6-second lead over second-place Kyle Busch with 20 laps to go. The first stage was fairly uneventful with no unscheduled cautions and only one meaningful lead change. Kyle Larson easily won stage 1, leading 75 out of 100 green-flag laps.

Stage 2 started with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch on the front row. Kyle Busch had a bad restart and spun his tires tremendously, which bunched that line up behind him. This caused a chain reaction of events that caused Kurt Busch to be spun-out and sent him up into the way to bring out the caution. Kurt’s number 1 car had heavy damage and pitted to try and repair the damage, but it ultimately ended his day.

The following restart was led by Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney, with a short back and forth for the lead, until Larson got the better of him and kept the lead. Right around lap 160, most of the field began to pit, with no cars having any issues/ penalties or gaining/ losing meaningful position.

Stage 2 was similar to stage 1 in that it was relatively uneventful, except for the initial restart incident. Kyle Larson won stage 2 in dominating fashion. When the stage ended, Kyle Larson had an almost 9-second lead over Ryan Blaney.

The final stage was led off with Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney once again leading the pack from the front row. Right off the jump, Blaney quickly shifted lines and got behind Larson, but the yellow flag quickly dropped once the 9 car of Chase Elliott’s engine blew.

Most of the field pitted under caution, and the 12 team gave Ryan Blaney the top spot after getting him the win off pit road. Blaney had a great restart and was leading the race with 100 laps to go in the race.

With about 88 laps to go, Blaney had to concede the lead to Kyle Larson due to some debris that was stuck to his front grill. That paid off as he was able to quickly get that debris off shortly after. Once Larson got out front, he continued his domination and started to increase his lead.

With 59 laps to go, some cars began to pit under green, while the cars upfront joined shortly after. Daniel Suarez was the only car penalized during that pit cycle for driving too fast while entering pit road. Anthony Alfredo had an incident where he was spun around and almost hit a few pit crew members from the number 10 car of Aric Almirola. Thankfully, it looked like no one was hurt in the incident.

As Kyle Larson hit more lap traffic, with about 20 laps to go, Ryan Blaney started chipping away at Larson’s lead and got within a second of the lead. With 8 laps to go, Ryan Blaney was able to make the pass on Kyle Larson in thrilling fashion. It really looked like the grip of the number 5 car of Larson fell off and affected his speed drastically towards the end. Once Blaney made the pass, he drove off and extended his lead quite a bit, and ultimately won the race.

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