TALLADEGA -- NASCAR Cup driver Ryan Blaney got swept up in a wreck and didn’t finish Sunday’s Alabama 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway.
But he still moved up in the points standings in a major way. He and race winner Brad Keselowski proved to be the big movers in the race to make the next playoff round.
Blaney finished 18th but zipped from 11th to seventh in the standings. Keselowski went from 10th to second. That’s significant because after next week’s race in Kansas, only the top eight move into the next round.
Regular-season champion Martin Truex Jr. remained first with 3,120 points, followed by Keselowski (3,101), Kyle Larson (3,096), Kevin Harvick (3,089), Denny Hamlin (3,088), Chase Elliott (3,087), Ryan Blaney (3,076) and Jimmie Johnson (3,074).
Four drivers now find themselves needing something big next week to advance. Kyle Busch (3,067) fell from sixth to ninth with Sunday’s race, followed by Matt Kenseth (3,066), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3,052) and Jamie McMurray (3,045).
Blaney got a big boost from his finish in the first two stages of Sunday’s race. He finished third in the first stage and won the second. That earned him 18 points to go with the 19 he got for where he finished in the final race standings.
Still, Blaney had hoped for more.
"I thought we were one of the fastest cars all day, which was nice to show, but you can be the fastest car and not finish the race and you've got nothing to show for it," he said.