Ryan Blaney had the perfect photo finish as he outlasted Rickey Stenhouse Jr. at Talladega to win the Geico 500. The nail-biting final lap occurred after the race needed to be postponed due to inclement weather on Sunday.
Blaney's No. 12 Ford Mustang just outpaced Stenhouse in overtime to pick up the driver's first win of the season. Behind Stenhouse was Aric Almirola who also had a photo finish coming in third. This is Blaney's second consecutive win in the Geico 500. The final lap saw some serious wrecks occur, including one in which Blaney struck Erik Jones into the wall. Afterwards, Blaney said he felt bad about the contact but it was a matter of "trying to beat and bang to the line." He added that it's been a "cool year so far" and is excited to pick up his first victory of 2020.
The day, though, will be remembered not for what Blaney and Stenhouse did, but for the scene that unfolded prior to the race beginning on Monday. That was where Bubba Wallace, who had discovered a noose hung in his stall the day before, was surrounded by all of the racers in a show of support. After the race concluded, Wallace, who is the sport's only full-time Black driver, said that NASCAR is "changing." In regards to seeing the 39 other drivers come out and stand with him was "one of the hardest things I've ever had to witness in my life." He said it was an incredible moment and something he was glad to be a part of.
Many of the sport's greats also came out to show their backing of Wallace, including Richard Petty, who made his first appearance at a race since the pandemic and stood next to Wallace during the national anthem. On Twitter, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he had "confidence" in the leadership of the drivers to "continue pushing us in the right direction." He urged his followers to continue showing love and support for Wallace because "he needs it now more than ever."
"The sport is changing ... Whoever it was, you're not gonna take away my smile."- @BubbaWallaceJune 23, 2020
Wallace, who finished 14th in the event, also shared a special moment afterwards with fans. He took off his mask, even apologizing later for doing so, before saying he just wanted to show them all that he was still smiling.