Team Penske NASCAR XFINITY Series Race Report
Race: Coca-Cola Firecracker 250
Date: July 6, 2018
No. 22 Pirtek Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 4th
Laps Completed: 105/105
Laps Led: 39 (Tied with Kyle Larson for most laps led)
Owner Point Standings (behind first): 1st (+29)
- Ryan Blaney and the Pirtek Ford Mustang started second in the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 after qualifying was washed out by an afternoon thunderstorm and the starting lineup was set by owner points.
- Shortly after the drop of the green flag, Blaney settled into the top-five, clicking off laps in Stage 1. As the stage drew to a close, Blaney made a move to get closer to the front but a lack of drafting help kept him in fifth position to the end the opening segment of the race on lap 30.
- During the stage caution, Blaney pitted on lap 32. Crew chief Brian Wilson made a track bar and wedge air adjustment plus tape on the nose. Fast service by the No. 22 crew gave Blaney the lead when Stage 2 began on lap 35.
- Blaney led the first 25 laps of Stage 2, protecting both lanes of traffic from making advances for the lead. But on lap 58, just three laps to go in Stage 2, Blaney got shuffled out of the lead. He fell back to fourth-place, where he finished the stage.
- Blaney made his final stop of the day on lap 62 during the stage caution where he took right-side tires and additional tape to the nose. Once again, excellent pit work gave Blaney the lead during the exchange of pit stops. He held the top spot when Stage 3 went green on lap 66, leading until lap 77 before getting shuffled back.
- The final 41 laps saw five cautions and one red flag delay and pushed the race into overtime. On the final green-white-checkered restart, Blaney made aggressive moves in an attempt find a way to win, but couldn’t find the necessary drafting help and was forced to settle for a fourth-place finish.
- The No. 22 Ford team leads the series owner standings by 29 points over the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing.
Quote: “It’s hard to go anywhere with a green-white-checker here, especially when we had no help. We had no one behind us and you can’t go anywhere. I’m actually surprised we even got back to the 1 (Elliott Sadler) and I might have been late on one more there at the end in three in four and that probably cost us, but I couldn’t get any help.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!