On a restart with three laps to go Saturday at the Hisense 4k TV 300, Ryan Blaney overtook race leader Kevin Harvick and held on to win his first race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Blaney, who led 107 of 200 laps at the 1.5-mile oval, took the checkered flag by two-tenths of a second in the 10th race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season.
The 300-mile race took place in Concord, North Carolina, just north of Charlotte. It was broken up into three stages that awarded points to the drivers at the end of each stage: 45 laps, 90 laps, and the finish. These points help determine who makes the playoffs at the end of the season.
Justin Allgaier started the race in first place, known as the pole position, by having the fastest time in qualifying: 182.4 miles per hour! Allgaier was one of the four finalists in the Xfinity Series Chase, or playoffs, last year. (He finished in third place in the season finale that determined the 2016 champion.) Allgaier led seven laps during the first stage on Saturday, but Harvick led the rest to win the stage with an average speed of 114.5 mph. (Harvick is a veteran in the Monster Energy Series, having won the championship in 2014.)
A note to all you readers who may not watch a lot of NASCAR: The reason the winning speed in each of the stages is slower than the qualifying speed is because there are cautions, or yellow flags, that slow down the cars for safety reasons. This can be because a car crashes or because there is debris on the track. Drivers also need to stop in the pits to change tires and get refills on gas several times during a race.
Blaney won the second stage after leading 38 laps and finished with an average speed of 123.5 mph. Blaney is one of the young guns that NASCAR is promoting as part of the next generation of stars. He is the son of former NASCAR driver Dave Blaney. Ryan also runs in the Monster Energy Series, NASCAR’s top series, but is only in his second year.
The final stage and race to the finish saw a number of cautions and lead changes. Following a caution with five laps to go, Harvick and Blaney lined up on the front row with Blaney on the inside. This is noteworthy because Blaney is the voice of Ryan (Inside) Laney in the upcoming movie Cars 3.
From the inside, Blaney sped into the lead for those last three laps and took the checkered flag with an average speed of 113.7 mph. It was his fifth victory in 56 Xfinity race starts, and his first at Charlotte. He also joins his dad as a winner here; the Blaneys are the only father-son combo to win at this track in the Xfinity Series. Said Ryan Blaney, “To win at a track where my father did is pretty cool.”
Photographs by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images (2)