NASCAR Cup Series Talladega race: Ryan Blaney holds off Kevin Harvick in thrilling finish

Charlotte Observer NASCAR reporter Shane Connuck will be passing along updates from today’s Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway. Follow those musings below. Refresh this page as needed. All times are Eastern.

Unofficial results

Pos.

Car

Driver

Time behind

Laps

Best time

Best speed

1

12

Ryan Blaney (P)

--

188

49.143

194.86

2

4

Kevin Harvick

0.012

188

48.608

197.005

3

24

William Byron (P)

0.061

188

49.011

195.385

4

11

Denny Hamlin (P)

0.177

188

48.843

196.057

5

7

Corey LaJoie

0.234

188

48.944

195.652

6

2

Austin Cindric

0.339

188

49.132

194.904

7

9

Chase Elliott (P)

0.395

188

49.202

194.626

8

31

Justin Haley

0.407

188

49.067

195.162

9

41

Ryan Preece

0.427

188

48.93

195.708

10

36

* Riley Herbst(i)

0.441

188

48.779

196.314

11

99

Daniel Suarez

0.449

188

49.148

194.84

12

13

* Chandler Smith(i)

0.479

188

49.064

195.174

13

38

Todd Gilliland

0.499

188

48.577

197.13

14

5

Kyle Larson (P)

0.528

188

49.21

194.595

15

14

Chase Briscoe

0.535

188

48.868

195.956

16

20

Christopher Bell (P)

0.569

188

48.837

196.081

17

45

Tyler Reddick (P)

0.609

188

48.943

195.656

18

10

Aric Almirola

0.636

188

48.982

195.5

19

19

Martin Truex Jr. (P)

0.686

188

49.207

194.606

20

17

Chris Buescher (P)

0.689

188

49.018

195.357

21

16

AJ Allmendinger

0.742

188

49.084

195.094

22

34

Michael McDowell

0.79

188

48.58

197.118

23

47

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

0.825

188

49.002

195.421

24

23

Bubba Wallace (P)

40.581

188

49

195.429

25

22

Joey Logano

0.882

188

49.234

194.5

26

8

Kyle Busch (P)

0.954

188

49.221

194.551

27

43

Erik Jones

1.126

188

49.099

195.035

28

77

Ty Dillon

1.134

188

49.108

194.999

29

48

Alex Bowman

1.499

188

49.162

194.785

30

78

BJ McLeod(i)

-1

187

49.43

193.729

31

15

Brennan Poole(i)

-2

186

49.109

194.995

32

21

Harrison Burton

-13

175

49.049

195.233

33

6

Brad Keselowski (P)

-27

161

49.134

194.896

34

3

Austin Dillon

-27

161

49.155

194.812

35

54

Ty Gibbs #

-27

161

48.718

196.56

36

42

Carson Hocevar(i)

-27

161

49.024

195.333

37

51

JJ Yeley(i)

-105

83

49.484

193.517

38

1

Ross Chastain (P)

-129

59

49.411

193.803















Lap 188: Cars back in the field crashed across the line, and by the slimmest of margins, Ryan Blaney has won and secured a spot in the next round of the playoffs with a win at Talladega.

Lap 185: With three to go, retiring sentimental favorite Kevin Harvick is in front. Blaney, Byron, Herbst are the rest oof the top 4.

Lap 180: Good battles at the front of the pack now with Bowman and Elliott — two non-playoff Hendrick cars — leading the way. Kevin Harvick is hanging in near the front as well.

Lap 175: Green is back in the air and here we go. Bowman, Harvick, Elliott, Blaney, Larson and Herbst... Yep, Herbst ... Are in the top 6 at the moment, but we’re expecting some movement as drivers organize as we get to crunch time.

Lap 172: We’re under yellow again here after officials spot debris on the backstretch.

Lap 168: Denny Hamlin has been given the free pass on this caution and will restart at the tail end of the line in 25th. Green green green we go. Aric Almirola, your pole-sitter, is leading the field. Alex Bowman and Kevin Harvick right there.

Lap 165: Caution pit stops now happening. The lead has cycled through and the strategy for the different manufacturers has been fun to watch this race. Michael McDowell technically your race leader at the moment, though as things cycle through, that will change.

Lap 164: Cars are back in motion under yellow after the track is all clear of debris from the wreck. To recap, it was kind of a “mini big one.” Brad Keselowski pushed Carson Hocevar through the trioval. Hocevar went sideways and left and clipped Ty Gibbs, sending him down the track hitting Austin Dillon. Dillon and Gibbs both went up track and hit Keselowski in the rear and hit the outside wall. Harrison Burton and Chase Briscoe made contact avoiding, and Chris Buescher ran into Harrison Burton.

Red flag, Lap 163: Cars are stopped as repairs to the wall need to be made following the impact from Austin Dillon and Ty Gibbs.

Dillon and Carson Hocevar have been evaluated and released from the infield care center, NASCAR says.

The current Top 10, with 25 laps left: Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Riley Herbst, William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Lap 162: Eight cars were swept up in that crash, including Brad Keselowski. He’s heading to the infield care center, NASCAR says. He entered Sunday seventh in the playoff standings, eight points above the cut line.

Lap 161: Caution! Just the third of the day, with the other two coming after Stages 1 and 2. Carson Hocevar got turned around and crashed, sliding across the start/finish line. Several cars involved farther back in the field.

Kevin Harvick has the lead. Aric Almirola up to second, Riley Herbst in third, William Byron in fourth, Bubba Wallace in fifth.

Lap 155: Bubba Wallace passes William Byron for the lead! Denny Hamlin, still a lap down and in 33rd, is running toward the front of the field.

Lap 150: William Byron moves into the lead. Ryan Blaney back into third, side-by-side with Bubba Wallace in second.

Lap 143: Here comes Chris Buescher! The No. 17 car passes Joey Logano for the lead. Denny Hamlin is a lap down and passes Buescher.

Lap 134: Joey Logano passes Kyle Larson and opens up a nearly one-second lead over Brad Keselowski and the rest of the field.

Lap 133: The 50th lead change of the day! Kyle Larson passes Joey Logano. Daniel Suarez works his way to the Top Five.

Lap 125: About 20 cars pitted and re-fueled at the start of the Final Stage. Back under green, Joey Logano leads, followed by Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson.

Lap 121: Fire on Pit Road! The fuel can comes out of Ty Gibbs’ Toyota. That’ll be a penalty on the No. 54 car.

Stage 2

Lap 120: Brad Keselowski wins Stage 2! The No. 6 Ford had been running around the front for a lot of the stage and passes William Byron at the end for the stage win.

Your Top 10: Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Chase Briscoe, Ty Dillon, Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick.

Lap 119: Our 19th leader of the day: The one who’s already punched his Round of 8 ticket. William Byron passes Joey Logano for the lead with a lap left in Stage 2.

Lap 114: Kyle Busch slides back and falls out of the Top 10 trying to move into the second lane! Joey Logano leads with Brad Keselowski right next to him.

Lap 109: Brad Keselowski holds the lead. Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Corey LaJoie and Joey Logano round out the current Top Five. Roughly two seconds separate the top 30 drivers in this field with 10 laps to go in Stage 2.

Lap 104: The leaders head down Pit Road under green! Quick pit stop for Denny Hamlin, who continues leading.

Lap 102: Denny Hamlin races into the lead! He’d been running 30th a short time ago. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski move into second and third. Bubba Wallace still runs in fourth, and Michael McDowell keeps fighting in the inside lane.

Lap 100: Bubba Wallace to the lead! Tyler Reddick in second as the 23XI teammates are running one and two. And their co-owner, Denny Hamlin, moves through the field as well.

Lap 94: Tyler Reddick makes his way through the field! The No. 45 car shoots up to second place, moves to the outside lane and passes leader Riley Herbst.

Michael McDowell is pushing Herbst in the inside lane, as Reddick runs in the outside lane with his 23XI teammate Bubba Wallace pushing him.

Lap 90: Halfway through Stage 2. The caution called by Ross Chastain’s wreck at the end of Stage 1 remains the only. There have been 34 — thirty-four — lead changes already. This is Talladega.

Your current Top 10, which has changed again: Riley Herbst, Michael McDowell, Tyler Reddick, Todd Gilliland, Erik Jones, Bubba Wallace, Austin Cindric, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola.

Lap 84: Erik Jones pushes his way toward the front of the pack and snatches the lead! Austin Cindric, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. still running behind.

Lap 76: Austin Cindric and Alex Bowman lead the respective outside and inside lanes of the field. Kevin Harvick running in third. Aric Almirola, the pole-sitter, moves back up to fourth, with Chase Elliott in fifth. All Chevys and Fords in the Top 10 right now.

Lap 66: Stage 2 is underway at Talladega! Chase Elliott passes Ryan Blaney for the lead. William Byron, Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman third to fifth. Four of the top five drivers currently are Hendrick Motorsports Chevys.

Lap 60: Ross Chastain is going to the care center after that wreck, NASCAR says. The driver of the No. 1 car, who entered Sunday sixth in the Round of 12 standings and 12 points above the cut line, is out of this race.

Stage 1

Lap 59: We’ve got our first wreck! Ross Chastain hits the wall after making contact with Kyle Busch. Ryan Blaney passes Austin Cindric and takes the Stage 1 win as the caution flag comes out.

Busch had been pushing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — who ran out of gas, according to the NBC broadcast — and hit Chastain, knocking him into the wall.

Top 10 after Stage 1: Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, Austin Cindric, Justin Haley, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Preece.

Lap 55: Ryan Blaney, the highest playoff driver on the leaderboard, made a run at Austin Cindric but didn’t pass him. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. passes Cindric for the lead. Kyle Busch running at the front, as well, near the end of Stage 1.

Lap 43: The movement at the front of the pack continues. Austin Cindric has moved into the lead.

Your Top 10: Cindric, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Justin Haley, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez and Kevin Harvick.

Lap 41: Christopher Bell takes the top spot! There have been 11 lead changes already. He’s ahead of Ty Gibbs, Martin Truex Jr., Corey LaJoie and Bubba Wallace.

The field remains very close. Carson Hocevar, who was moved to the rear and started the race in 38th, recently found himself in the Top Five.

Lap 32: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. takes the lead, running just ahead of Ryan Preece. Erik Jones, Joey Logano and Austin Cindric right behind.

Lap 22: Still lots of movement within the field, which is still very close early on at Talladega. Ryan Preece, driving Ricky Bobby’s Wonder Bread car from the “Talladega Nights” movie, has worked through the field to pass Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. for the lead.

Your Top 10: Ryan Preece, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, William Byron, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace.

Lap 11: Roughly 1.6 seconds separate the current leader, Joey Logano, from Brennan Poole, who’s running in 38th place. The field is still packed together.

Lap 9: Joey Logano, who started second behind pole-sitter Aric Almirola, is out to an early lead, but not by much. William Byron and Kyle Larson are battling the No. 22 car for the lead at the front of a packed field at Talladega.

Green flag, 2:04 p.m.: And we’re green! Racin’ at Talladega!

1:52 p.m.: Engines are fired!

1:50 p.m.: A lot is at stake at Talladega this afternoon. William Byron, who boasts a field-best seven wins including last week at Texas, is the only driver who’s punched his ticket to the Round of 8. Bubba Wallace (two points below the elimination line), Tyler Reddick (-3), Ryan Blaney (-11) and Kyle Busch (-17) face uphill battles in the Cup Series standings.

1:30 p.m.: It’s a hot day out in Alabama, with the temperature currently 83 degrees and sunny. But still, it’s not as warm as it was at Texas Motor Speedway last week, when the temperature was over 100 degrees for most of the race.

1:25 p.m.: Some timing info for today’s race, from NASCAR: The invocation is at 1:44 p.m, and then the national anthem will be played at 1:45 p.m. Command is scheduled for 1:52 p.m., with green flag scheduled for 2:04 p.m. Read much more about the race, including Chase Briscoe and Ryan Preece driving “Wonder Bread” and “Old Spice” cars from the movie “Talladega Nights.”

1 p.m. ET: About an hour to the green flag here at Talladega Superspeedway! At the always unpredictable 2.66-mile asphalt track, Aric Almirola will start on the pole.

Odds/predictions for Sunday’s race

Brad Keselowski is still the favorite to win Sunday’s race at 10-1 odds, according to CBS Sports. The longtime driver has six career wins at the world’s longest speedway, including his first race at Talladega in 2009. He’s followed by Denny Hamlin (12-1), Ryan Blaney (12-1), Chris Buescher (13-1) and Bubba Wallace (14-1).

Shane Connuck is predicting Kevin Harvick to pull off the win. You never know what’ll happen at Talladega. Harvick, who’s retiring after this postseason, only has one win at Talladega, and it was in 2010.

Required reading

Starting lineup for Sunday’s Cup Series race at Talladega

Position

Driver

Car Number

1

Aric Almirola

10

2

Joey Logano

22

3

Chase Briscoe

14

4

Kyle Larson

5

5

Brad Keselowski

6

6

Riley Herbst

36

7

Austin Cindric

2

8

William Byron

24

9

Bubba Wallace

23

10

Ryan Blaney

12

11

Kevin Harvick

4

12

Denny Hamlin

11

13

Tyler Reddick

45

14

Austin Dillon

3

15

Christopher Bell

20

16

Martin Truex Jr.

19

17

Todd Gilliland

38

18

Michael McDowell

34

19

Ryan Preece

41

20

Alex Bowman

48

21

Harrison Burton

21

22

Ty Gibbs

54

23

Chase Elliott

9

24

Chris Buescher

17

25

Kyle Busch

8

26

Erik Jones

43

27

JJ Yelev

51

28

Daniel Suarez

99

29

Brennan Poole

15

30

Justin Haley

31

31

AJ Allmendinger

16

32

Ross Chastain

1

33

Ty Dillon

77

34

Chandler Smith

13

35

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

47

36

Corey LaJoie

7

37

BJ McLeod

78

38

Carson Hocevar

42