FORT WORTH, Texas – Ryan Blaney may have been looking forward to Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 opener at Texas Motor Speedway. After the peaks and valleys ending in a crash toward the end of the race, he now finds himself on the outside looking in with two races remaining before the cutoff.
“It was an up and down day, definitely and it ended with a down,” said Blaney after a six-car incident on Lap 257. “We got better and then I sped on pit road. That really took us out of having a good finish.”
A seventh in Stage 1 and a fourth in Stage 2 was looking to be a strong and promising day for the No. 12 Team Penske team until a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 211 put them at the tail end of the field on the restart. Blaney started to work his way through traffic but couldn’t get past a six-car pileup that ended his day short.
“When you put yourself back there then you get in a wreck,” he explained. “A slight sliver of hope and getting stage points but a driver mistake puts us back in the stuff and getting wrecked. Not a very good job by me today but proud of everyone on this Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Mustang group. They did the best they could.
“I am proud of this group for getting a little better all day and having a good strategy. We took right side tires to get track position and then the car was ok, just kind of hanging on. We’ll head to Talladega not too many points out. Hopefully, we can rack up some there.”
After finishing in the 28th position in the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400, Blaney now finds himself 11 points below the cutoff. The good news is that his team has won together at both tracks: Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. The bad news is that both tracks have wildcard tendencies that make it tough to battle.
However, Blaney is clinging to that sliver of hope to make his way into the Round of 8.
“We’re still not out of it.”