Ryan Blaney may have gone off to an early blistering start thanks to a win in Stage 1.
But as the race goes on, it is enough for him to conquer the short track at a place like Bristol?
Let’s find out.
He started off from 10th having avoided the first caution on Lap 3 and made his way to the race lead.
When Blaney first pitted under the competition caution on Lap 61, he felt a bit loose needing an air pressure adjustment.
Despite a late battle from Kevin Harvick, he’s able to pull off one of “The Big Three” drivers for the Stage 1 win.
In time for the next restart, Blaney came back to add a wedge adjustment after he’s a bit off the pace at the end of his latest run.
Despite going too loose, Blaney at one point returned to the lead on Lap 165.
When David Ragan spun out, he came to pit road under yellow after reported the struggles seen just now; the No.12 crew added more treatment with an air pressure adjustment.
Though, slight contact with Chase Elliott at Turn 4 cost Blaney time at the next restart.
That’s where he slipped from the front row to 5th towards the halfway mark.
Having felt frustrated at the end of the latest run, Blaney needs significant treatment to the No.12 Ford Fusion.
So the No.12 crew added both the wedge and air pressure adjustment.
It may not be going any looser to begin the next stage.
But the symptoms have persisted this time going tight inside his car in 6th.
That’s where Blaney couldn’t run the bottom line as he’s a lot freer on entry and hence lost time.
When Reed Sorenson crashed on Lap 350, it doesn’t look any good for Ryan Blaney.
He pitted twice under caution this time around so they can tighten the lug nuts & not fall off from the No.12 car.
Although, two more cautions saw Blaney come back from the rear end to the Top 10 on the run home in 7th.
That’s his first Bristol Cup Top 10 since surpassing his previous best result of 11th from August 2016 to 7th.
Blaney also scored back to back similar figure finishes in two weeks now from last night and Michigan.
Ryan Blaney’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season
- 24 Starts
- 6014 of 6662 Laps Completed, 90.3%
- 585 Laps Led
- Highest Starting Spot: 1st, Las Vegas in March 2018
- Best Finish: 2nd, Kentucky in July 2018
- Five Top 5, 20.8%
- 12 Top 10 finishes, 50%
- Average Start: 9.7 & Finish: 15.1
- DNFs: Four, Crash (Bristol, Kansas & Daytona 2) & Engine (Charlotte).
- He currently sits 7th in the Drivers’ Standings with 733 points.
- 7th, Daytona 500
- 12th, Atlanta
- 5th, Las Vegas
- 16th, Phoenix
- 8th, Fontana
- 3rd, Martinsville
- 5th, Texas
- 35th, Bristol
- 22nd, Richmond
- 18th, Talladega
- 8th, Dover
- 37th, Kansas
- 36th, Charlotte
- 6th, Pocono
- 8th, Michigan
- 34th, Sonoma
- 18th, Chicagoland
- 40th, Daytona
- 2nd, Kentucky
- 7th, New Hampshire
- 12th, Pocono 2 & Watkins Glen
- 5th, Michigan 2
- 7th, Bristol 2
It’s a very tough night where he had to carry a very loose and tight race car despite winning in Stage 1.
When the No.12 Ford Fusion feels uncomfortable, Blaney couldn’t control what’s the best way to stay ahead of the front row.
Even though a little drama occurred on Lap 350, he had to be patient from the rear, so the lug nuts don’t fall out and get any worse.
Thanks to the last two cautions, Blaney ran quiet and recovered back towards the Top 7 at the checkered flag.
So at last, he’s able to capitalize on what went wrong earlier and picked up maximum points.
But to win races, the car shouldn’t feel tight or loose and able to run quietly.
These checkpoints have missed from what Blaney wanted to keep ahead of the pack for all 500 laps.
Towards the end of Stage 2 to 50 laps left in the final segment, he looks lost slipping away from the Top 5.
Plus despite winning Stage 1, he’s only able to hold off a few competitors by close margins and not comfortably.
It’s one of those weaknesses that Blaney needs to improve next time.
Another Top 10 performance in the bag and moving up to 7th in the Drivers’ Standings is excellent news.
But a win would help Blaney get a lot ready and challenge “The Big Three” in time for Las Vegas, the season-opening Playoffs place mid next month.
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