Blaney wins at Talladega after NASCAR unites behind Wallace

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Driver Bubba Wallace takes a selfie with himself and other drivers that pushed his car to the front in the pits of the Talladega Superspeedway prior to the start of the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega Ala., Monday June 22, 2020. In an extraordinary act of solidarity with NASCARs only Black driver, dozens of drivers pushed the car belonging to Bubba Wallace to the front of the field before Mondays race as FBI agents nearby tried to find out who left a noose in his garage stall over the weekend. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Even in victory, Ryan Blaney thought about what happened to close friend Bubba Wallace over the weekend. And what happened afterward.

Blaney held onto the lead after a restart with two laps to go Monday, earning his second straight win at Talladega Superspeedway on a day that began with NASCAR drivers throwing their support behind Wallace.

“I think it's great that everybody really came together,” Blaney said. “I don't want it to be remembered as a terrible day or a bad day in NASCAR.

"I want it to be remembered as there was an incident and we all overcame it together and showed that we're not going to take it any more.”

It was that kind of bittersweet day and weekend.

Blaney nipped Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the finish line by .007 seconds for his fourth win and first since Talladega in October, albeit this time before a mostly empty venue. It was a race marked by support for Wallace instead of another Big One at Talladega, though there was mayhem behind Blaney on the final lap and he also pushed Erik Jones into the wall near the finish.

“Just trying to block, block the best we could,” Blaney said. “Block the top, block the bottom ... just beating and banging to the line. ”

Aric Almirola spun at the end and crossed the line almost backward.