This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series regular season came to a close Saturday in an aggressive night race at Daytona International Speedway. Ryan Blaney kept his car out of trouble and was out front when the final flag waved on an overtime finish to give him his second win in as many weeks and third of the season. Ford's early pit strategy led to him gaining the advantage he needed to spend the final miles at the front, as most Chevrolet and Toyota teams were forced to pit under caution, giving up their track position to the Fords as they remained on track. The race featured 45 lead changes along with five cautions for crashes. It was nail-biter to the end for the playoff field to finally be set.
Only one playoff position remained to be claimed Saturday, and it looked to be a battle between teammates Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick. The numerous lead changes, crashes and number of drivers with speed who didn't have a win on the season made it much more than a two-car battle, however. In the end, the seesaw battle between the teammates was the decider with Reddick squeaking his way through on points and on track, as the final caution ended the race with Dillon involved in the carnage. The championship field is now set, and the 10-race elimination format gets rolling this week at Darlington Raceway in the Southern 500.
Ryan Blaney – Two weeks ago at Michigan, Blaney put together