By Matt Courson, Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Exiting the final turn on the final lap of Sunday’s Daytona 500, Ryan Blaney found himself in the catbird seat – in second place behind his teammate, Austin Cindric.
While entering the tri-oval, Blaney made a move to the top of the racetrack to try and pass his teammate, but Cindric threw a race-winning block and put Blaney into the fence while approaching the finish line.
“The last lap I got good pushes on the bottom from the 23 and then I was able to get Austin in front and off of four where we were good enough to make a move I got blocked and I ended up getting fenced,” Blaney said.
“I’m happy for Roger Penske, winning the 500 on his birthday. I’m happy for Jeremy Bullins and everyone that works on that 2 car. It’s just one of those things. It didn’t work out. We still ended up fourth, but I don’t know another perfect position we could have put ourselves in to win the race. It just didn’t work out.”
Blaney waited to make the potential race winning pass until he was sure that one of the two Team Penske drivers would capture the victory. That idea comes after two Penske teammates crashed each other in the 2021 Daytona 500. Team owner Roger Penske said last year he met with his team to ensure that two teammates wrecking each other did not happen again.
“I made the decision of I wasn’t gonna make a move until I was 100 percent sure that one of our two cars was gonna win, and one of our two cars were going to win and one of them ended up winning,” Blaney said. “I was committed to him until I was 100 percent sure that one of us was gonna win and one of us did.”
The race winning crew chief of Cindric. Jeremy Bullins, credited Blaney for the win and said if Blaney had not been a great teammate, the Penske team would not have reached Victory Lane. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to Ryan,” Bullins said. “That’s a hell of a teammate. That’s a — I’ve been here with him and felt like we were going to win with him (as a crew chief), and I can’t thank him enough for being that good of a teammate because we probably don’t win that race without him.”
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images