Ryan Blaney takes lead on final restart, holds on to win Michigan

Ford has now won seven straight races at the track

Ryan Blaney beats William Byron at the finish line to win Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan. (Carlos Osorio / AP Photo)

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Ryan Blaney needed a push to pass William Byron on Sunday.

Kyle Busch provided the boost.

With Busch’s help, Blaney took the lead on the final restart, then bobbed and weaved his way around Michigan International Speedway to beat Byron by 0.077 seconds. It was the narrowest victory margin in a Cup race at this track since electronic scoring began.

“I wouldn’t say we had the best car,” Blaney said. “We got pretty good, to a point where I thought we could run fourth or fifth, and it just worked out to where he could give us a push and it just worked out.”

Blaney won for the second time this season and sixth overall. Ford has now won seven straight at Michigan.

When the top three cars took the outside lane on the final restart, Blaney chose the inside lane next to Byron and in front of Busch.

His decision — and Busch’s push — changed the complexion of the race.

“It was fun, kind of like a superspeedway race,” Byron said. “Unfortunately, he ran the bottom. You can only block so many lanes and I tried to block the top and cost myself the lead.”

Kyle Larson and Byron took turns over the final seven laps trying to give one another a shot to pass Blaney. Nothing worked.

“Just made a couple of bad moves, I guess,” Larson said. “A little too impatient behind the No. 12 and allowed William to get by me and then I was hoping they would get racing and I could get side-drafting.”

And Blaney sped across the finish line barely ahead of Byron.

“Really the push was the whole thing,” Blaney said. “So thanks, Kyle.”

Blaney also ended Kevin Harvick’s winning streak at Michigan at three. But the consolation prize wasn’t bad — clinching the 15th spot in the 16-car playoff that begins in two weeks.

Elliott beat Larson to the finish line to win the first stage, and Busch took the second stage over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell.

Austin Dillon heads into the regular-season finale in 17th place after finishing third in the first stage, but his day ended with a nasty crash as the second stage ended.

Dillon was trying to move up from below the white line when the No. 3 Chevrolet appeared to make contact with Brad Kesewlowski, sending Dillon hard into the outside wall and briefly airborne in the front straightaway.

Keselowski apologized immediately on the radio.

“I think we would have a shot for something there at the end with that race car,” he said. “I thought we had a little room to come up but he just held me down a little bit.”

The regular-season ends Saturday night at Daytona.