Ryan Blaney wins NASCAR Cup Series race in Michigan

AP photo by Carlos Osorio / Ryan Blaney celebrates after winning Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

BROOKLYN, Mich. - Ryan Blaney's Team Penske Ford needed a push to pass William Byron's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet during a pivotal moment Sunday.

A Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota provided the boost.

With Kyle Busch's help, Blaney took the lead on the final restart, then bobbed and weaved his way around Michigan International Speedway to beat Byron to the finish line by 0.077 second. It was the narrowest victory margin in a NASCAR Cup Series 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."

Blaney capped a big weekend for Team Penske as the 27-year-old won for the second time this season and the sixth time in his Cup Series career. Penske driver Josef Newgarden won Saturday's IndyCar race in suburban St. Louis, and Sunday's Cup Series win came at a track not far from Roger Penske's Detroit roots.

Ford drivers have seven straight wins at Michigan, but this one was unexpected in a race where there was no practice or qualifying at a speedway where resin had been added to the top of the track.

Blaney started third and quickly found himself off the pace of Hendrick teammates Chase Elliot, Kyle Larson and Byron, but he kept his cool in the heat as his crew fine-tuned the No. 12 Ford. Blaney took care of the rest, methodically working toward the front.

When Elliott lost track position after stalling in the pits and two late cautions bunched the field together, Blaney was suddenly in the top five.

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."

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."

Blaney sped across the finish line barely ahead of Byron as Larson wound up third, with Chip Ganassi Racing's Kurt Busch fourth and JGR's Denny Hamlin fifth.

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

Kyle Busch wound up seventh, one spot behind Wood Brothers Racing's Matt DiBenedetto. Elliott was eighth, with Penske's Brad Keselowski ninth and JGR's Martin Truex Jr. 10th.

Kevin Harvick's winning streak at Michigan is over after three races, but the consolation prize for the Stewart-Haas Racing veteran and 2014 Cup Series champion wasn't bad. He finished 14th and clinched the 15th spot in the 16-car playoffs that begin in two weeks.

Saturday night's regular-season finale is at Daytona International Speedway.