No. 12 Menards/Dickies Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 7th
Stage 2: 2nd
Laps Completed: 277/277
Laps Led: 2
Point Standings (behind first): 8th (-37)
- Ryan Blaney was zapped by a cut tire with 23 laps to go in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. The misfortune relegated Blaney to a 21st-place finish Sunday afternoon but thanks to his Talladega victory last week, the driver of the Menards/Dickies Ford Mustang advances to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs, 37 points behind points leader Kyle Busch.
- Blaney started third and quickly worked his way to second in the opening laps. He settled into third position after Kyle Larson passed him on lap 10. He reported to crew chief Jeremy Bullins that his No. 12 Mustang was tight especially in Turns 3 and 4. His first stop of the day came on lap 41 where the Dickies team changed four tires, added fuel plus made wedge and air pressure adjustment. Blaney cycled back inside the top-five after the green flag stops were completed. The first caution of the race came out on lap 76 for debris. Bullins made the call to stay out in the hopes of winning the stage and collecting a valuable playoff point. When racing resumed on lap 78, Blaney was stacked three-wide on the restart and lost several spots but managed to score a sixth-place finish when Stage 1 ended on lap 80. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and fuel plus track bar and air pressure adjustments to improve a loose-handling condition.
- The driver of the Menards/Dickies Ford restarted outside the top 10 when Stage 2 began on lap 86. The balance on the No. 12 Ford was improved from the first two runs but Blaney said he was too free in Turns 1 and 2 and too tight in Turns 3 and 4. He drove up to eighth-place and pitted on lap 117 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Speedy work on the pit lane by the Menards/Dickies crew gained him one spot on pit road up to seventh.
- The chassis adjustments along with an increasingly overcast afternoon helped the Dickies Ford come to life. He passed Kevin Harvick for third on lap 127 and grabbed second from ,Martin Truex, Jr., Blaney and Denny Hamlin waged a spirited battle for the lead as Stage 2 drew to a close but try as he might, he could not find a way around Hamlin and settled for a second-place finish when the segment concluded on lap 160. Bullins called for four tires plus a track bar and air pressure adjustments during the stage caution and Blaney restarted second on lap 166.
- Once back under green, Blaney resumed his chase of Hamlin. Using the outside line in both corners, Blaney steadily made up time on Hamlin. But as the run grew longer, the balance on Blaney’s Ford went to the free side, stalling his pursuit. Kyle Busch passed Blaney for second at the 200-lap mark. He made a scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 218 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments.
- Blaney was running third with 13 laps remaining when he cut a right-rear tire in Turn 2 and the debris brought out a caution on lap 254. Blaney pitted during the caution for tires and hasty repairs to his Ford. He survived the next two chaotic restarts (on laps 269 and 275 respectively) to bring home to a 21st-place finish.
Quote: “It was an up and down day. We didn’t start off great, but we got better throughout the race. We were able to get up to second but the No. 11 (Hamlin) was phenomenal. I could only make time at the wall and had to pound the fence to do anything. Eventually I got too close to the fence trying to run those guys back down and hit it. We blew a tire before we could get to pit road. We knew we had to take that chance today trying to run hard. It stinks that I blew a tire and caused that caution.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!