This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
Ryan Blaney was one of the fastest cars early in Sunday's 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway but then made a major mistake by spinning on his way to pit road during the first stage break. His mistake didn't have the negative impact it otherwise would have once rain postponed the remaining race until Monday, however. By pitting to replace all four tires after the spin, he was left in position to make a two-tire stop and get back to the front Monday afternoon when the action resumed. He continued to race toward the front of the pack in the remaining two stages, avoiding the crashes that took out most of the top contenders, and then drafting in a neck-and-neck battle with Ryan Newman in one of the closest finishes in series history. Blaney's first victory of 2019 came at the perfect time as he faced a near must-win situation to advance one round further in the playoffs. He now joins Kyle Larson as the only two drivers secure in the round of eight.
This week features the round of 12 cutoff race at Kansas Speedway where the final eight championship contenders will be moving on. Brad Keselowski won there earlier this season and could use a victory to rekindle his championship spark and sail into the round of eight. William Byron, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer and Alex Bowman all sit below the cutoff line after Talladega.
Ryan Blaney – Blaney pulled off the clutch victory he needed