Ryan Blaney Slips and Slides His Way to a Third-Place Finish in Mid-Ohio

Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images

By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor

Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was one of the most memorable races in recent years for one reason: rain.

In a rare race where NASCAR allowed teams to use and race on rain tires, drivers had to endure conditions ranging from a steady downpour to a light rain throughout the race.

While there were multiple drivers in the field who specialize in road racing and have experience racing in the rain – including eventual race winner Justin Marks – other drivers weren’t so comfortable with the conditions. Road course racing presents its own challenges. Racing in the rain is an even more advanced skill set.

However, many NASCAR regulars performed admirably, rising to the challenge and, in most cases, outrunning the road racing specialists brought in for the event. While that’s not generally uncommon anymore, doing so in the rain certainly posed its own difficulties.

One of those drivers who performed better than maybe even he expected was Ryan Blaney. Though he is not an XFINITY Series regular but rather is a full-time rookie for Wood Brothers Racing in the Sprint Cup Series, the 22-year-old would be up against a task otherwise unfamiliar to him: racing in the rain.

After starting the race from the third position, Blaney would face an up-and-down day. Like many of his competitors, the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford found himself off course and in the grass multiple times. However, he was still able to lead six laps during the race and ultimately finished third in an event with way more spinouts and off-course excursions than the caution record will reflect.

Not a bad race for a driver who, by his own admission, has some work to do with racing in the rain.

“I kept running off [the track],” Blaney said in a post-race television interview. “That was unfortunate. I made a lot of mistakes. We had a really fast car. The rain and then stopping, drying out, that was a blast. I hope it was fun for the fans to watch. It was fun to drive, trying to figure out when to put slicks on and when to put wets back on. That was really cool. We were so fast before that last caution. When it stopped raining I found a deal that was really good, then it started raining again and it wasn’t as good. Congrats to Justin. That’s cool to see. There’s no nicer guy in the garage. Thank you to Discount Tire and Ford for letting me do it and it was fun. It was cool to go out and laugh a lot and get angry, but get over it and realize that it’s tough to mess up for guys. Just a lot of fun.”

This was Blaney’s fourth race of 2016, earning a top-five finish in his first ever race at Mid-Ohio.

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