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BLANEY, RYAN BLANEY: .007 seconds decide Talladega's 500

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney scored his first victory of the year by taking the 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

TALLADEGA — Ryan Blaney edged Ryan Newman by 0.007 seconds to win the Monday at Talladega Superspeedway.

"Super fun the last couple of days," he said. "It's pretty cool."

The race began Sunday, but driving was suspended after 57 laps because of rain. The action restarted Monday, and three major wrecks during the day took out more than half the field, leaving 19 cars on the lead lap at the end.

A red flag stopped racing with six laps left. The race restarted with two laps remaining, leaving drivers essentially to sprint to the finish.

Blaney was out in front, with a push from Aric Almirola, but Newman, pushed by Denny Hamlin, roared back into contention. Blaney edged over the line just ahead of Newman.

"Big range of emotions," Blaney said in a news conference later in the evening. "This is what sports are about."

He added that there was some luck in not suffering too much from the race's three major wrecks: "At all the speedway races, we got collected in somebody else's mess."

Blaney's win secures a spot for him in the Round of 8 in the next round of the playoffs. His chances were in jeopardy after suspension problems forced him out of last week's Dover race early. He finished 35th.

With Blaney first and Newman second, Hamlin followed in third place. Almirola was fourth, and Michael McDowell fifth. This was McDowell's third top-five finish in 316 career Cup races. He was fourth in 2017 at Daytona and fifth at Daytona earlier this year.

Hamlin's third-place finish proved especially valuable. He now leads the Cup standings by eight points over Martin Truex Jr., who was the leader coming into Talladega. Truex finished 26thΒ 

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter:Β @MarkSportsStar.