No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 3rd
Stage 2: 3rd
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 0
Point Standings (behind first): 6th (-45)
- Ryan Blaney began the NASCAR Playoffs Round of 8 with a fifth-place finish in the First Data 500 at the Martinsville Speedway. This was his 10th top-five finish of 2019 and he now sits sixth NASCAR Cup Series point standings, 45 points behind leader Martin Truex Jr. and 15 points behind fourth-place Joey Logano.
- Blaney started fifth and began working his way towards the front. He would drive up to third by lap 20 when the first caution of the day came out on lap 29. Blaney would pit on lap 30 for tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. Strong service by the Menards crew allowed Blaney to restart second on when racing resumed on lap 34. His car would remain tight on throttle and he would eventually fall back to third behind Denny Hamlin. He would remain in the same spot until the end of the stage on lap 130, bringing home a third-place finish. Under the stage break crew chief Jeremy Bullins would call for major air pressure adjustment.
- Blaney would restart third when Stage 2 began on lap 139. A bad restart by Hamlin would put Blaney back to sixth place. A caution on lap 179, would bring the leaders back to pit road where the Menards crew would make another air pressure adjustment. Another strong pit stop by the No. 12 crew would gain Blaney three spots on pit road. He would pass Clint Bowyer for second on lap 236 and set his sights on Martin Truex Jr. for the race lead. The caution would fly on lap 253 for debris, just seven laps prior to the Stage 2 conclusion. Blaney would pit for tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment. Restarting third, he would battle Truex Jr. and Larson for the Stage victory, but in the end would settle for a third-place finish.
- Restarting third for the final stage on lap 268, Blaney would report that his car was the tightest it had been all day. He would fall back to fourth on lap 280 and remain in that position until a caution on lap 347. The Menards crew would take tires, fuel and a major wedge and air pressure adjustment reporting the car had no forward drive. Another strong pit stop got the High Point, N.C. native out from fourth to second place for the restart on lap 352.
- Restarting second and needing a long run, Blaney set his sights on leader Truex Jr., but would begin to receive pressure from William Byron. Blaney would make his final stop of the day under caution on lap 451 for tires, fuel and another wedge and air pressure adjustment.
- Even with multiple chassis and air pressure adjustments, the Menards Ford needed long runs, which simply didn’t happen over the last 50 laps. Blaney would eventually lose spots to teammate Brad Keselowski and Hamlin late, coming home with a fifth-place finish.
Quote: “We were in the top five all day and I thought we had a good shot at second. We weren’t good on short runs. We struggled for probably 30-40 laps and then we’d come alive and be great, but just didn’t have the speed.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!