Blaney wins in crazy finish on 'Roval' course
Ryan Blaney claimed a surprise NASCAR victory after a crazy final lap in the first race on Charlotte Motor Speedway's "Roval".
Martin Truex Jr. had the lead heading into the final turn, literally yards from the finish line, with Jimmie Johnson driving hard to catch him on Sunday.
Johnson went too hard into the turn, hit Truex Jr., and both drivers spun out in the Bank of America Roval 400.
Blaney, running third, then crossed the finish line for his second career victory.
Jamie McMurray finished second, followed by Clint Bowyer and Alex Bowman.
"We were just in the right spot at the right time," Blaney said after the race. "But we put ourselves in a good spot."
That late crash proved especially costly to Johnson. The seven-time NASCAR Cup champion, who could have played it safe on that last lap and continued to the next round of the NASCAR playoffs, instead was eliminated.
Johnson actually finished tied for the final two second-round playoff spots with Aric Almirola and Kyle Larson, but lost on a tie-breaker, based on each driver's best first-round finish.
Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones were the other three drivers eliminated as the first round of the playoffs concluded.
No one knew what to expect heading into the first NASCAR Cup race on Charlotte Motor Speedway's new "Roval" road course.
But the closing laps featured a multi-car crash reminiscent of the "Big One" often seen at Daytona and Talladega. On a restart with six laps remaining, leader Brad Keselowski went into the first turn, had no grip in his tires, and drove straight into the retaining wall.
Several other front-runners and playoff drivers piled into the resulting logjam of cars.
"The whole field went down into Turn 1 and went straight, it's like we all overdrove it," Keselowski said.