Ryan Blaney collected his second victory in a row, and Tyler Reddick overcame damage from a crash to clinch the final playoff spot Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Blaney took the lead on a two-lap restart to end the race and had a big lead over Kevin Harvick when Harvick got turned by Daniel Suarez to trigger a huge crash on the backstretch on the final lap. It was a similar ending to the Daytona 500 in February when Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski crashed while racing for the win and Michael McDowell scored the upset victory.
The final restart was set up by a crash exiting turn 4 when Chase Elliott blocked Matt DiBenedetto’s pass for the lead. That crash also collected a bunch of cars.
Tyler Reddick held on to the 16th and final playoff spot despite being in the crash triggered by Elliott’s block. He beat his teammate Austin Dillon for the final spot because a driver without a win didn’t win Saturday night’s race.
“How about that,” Blaney said. “That was a lot of fun. Gosh, we just barely missed that wreck. Got to line up on the front row and got a good push by the 7 (Corey LaJoie). You never know how the end of these things is going to play out. Down the back you don’t know what lane is getting a bigger run. I guess someone got tangled up over there, hopefully everyone is OK.”
Chris Buescher finished second but was disqualified after the race because his car failed post-race inspection. Had Buescher won, NASCAR would have been in the awkward position of celebrating his win to get into the playoffs over Reddick before rescinding it after inspection.
Bubba Wallace, who led eight laps late in the race, finished second – his best result of the 2021 season. Ryan Newman, Ryan Preece and Reddick rounded out the top five; a season best for Newman and Preece as well.