Ryan Blaney began the South Point 400 from the third row in 6th having run well by moving two spots.
However, it felt tight as he’s chattering the tires through the corners saying he’s doing everything he can as a road blocker.
That’s how Blaney lost a few spots down to 10th through the next 20-30 laps.
When he made his first stop, the No.12 looks terrible as he needs the better front turn and loosen the car up from the back.
Towards the end of Stage 1, he had a push and shoved with Aric Almirola where Almirola squeezed into the wall.
Although, he continued to race on okay as he came home in 19th despite picking up some damage.
During the first Stage Break, the No.12 crew took a bit more time assessing and fixing the damage on pit road.
He first restarted in 22nd having moved up a few spots to 17th so great progress there towards the Ty Dillon Crash on Lap 110.
Blaney stopped straight away for an Air Pressure Adjustment plus four new tires and fuel before restarting in 11th.
On his return run, he’s able to move a couple of positions first hand.
But he’s a bit too tight & losing spots having fixed the damage with Aric Almirola was in Stage 1.
With Erik Jones & Kevin Harvick collided on Lap 148, Blaney’s willing to check on pit road for more treatment.
As the No.12 car went extremely loose, the No.12 inserted both a wedge and air pressure adjustment.
In return, he’s able to stay within the Top 10 before finishing 8th at the halfway stage.
Since they’ve been on pit road for a while, Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins chose to go with a quickie two-tire stop.
That tactic helped Blaney gained Six Spots en route to winning the race off pit road during the Stage Break.
At the start of the final segment, Blaney re-began in 6th where he ran well by moving up a spot in the Top 5.
When William Byron lost control on Lap 184, he pitted for more of the same treatment such as the wedge and air pressure adjustment.
The feedback Blaney ran this time feels much better having remained in the Top 5 through his next run.
After the Chase Elliott & Jamie McMurray incident on Lap 212, Blaney hoped to move into the Top 3 with the Wedge Adjustment.
Once again, he’s able to stay within the Top 5 towards the rest of the race.
He was at one point edged closer for the front row spot in a bid to visit in victory lane.
But through overtime and several restarts, Ryan Blaney finished 5th.
Ryan Blaney’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season
- 27 Starts
- 6813 of 7461 Laps Completed, 91.3%
- 586 Laps Led
- Highest Starting Spot: 1st, Las Vegas in March 2018
- Best Finish: 2nd, Kentucky in July 2018
- Six Top 5, 22.2%
- 13 Top 10 finishes, 48.1%
- Average Start: 10 & Finish: 14.6
- DNFs: Four, Crash (Bristol, Kansas & Daytona 2) & Engine (Charlotte).
- He currently sits 7th in the Drivers’ Standings with 2042 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
- 15th, Darlington
- 11th, Indianapolis
- 5th, Las Vegas 2
The last time he scored a Top 5 throughout 2018 was Michigan last month in 5th.
And when he left Las Vegas, Blaney scored four straight Top 10s out of five starts.
Plus back to back Top 5s through the March and September events this year out of his last two appearances in Nevada.
- 6th, 2016
- 7th, 2017
- 5th, Both March & September 2018
It’s great to see him back running well after two weeks of inconsistent performances.
Forget about Darlington and Indianapolis; he’s back on his feet with a Top 5 car on his hands.
So great way to build on a fantastic 2018 Playoffs campaign as he’s looking to stay consistent within the next few weeks.
At times, the No.12 Ford Fusion did struggle with a loose and tight car in the first stage.
Before Stage 2 started, Blaney did have to battle through the damage from a bump with Aric Almirola.
Though, thanks to a couple of yellows, Blaney’s able to spend some time having the No.12 bandaged 100%.
Then through multiple restarts through the second half of the race, he’s much improved having stayed stable and finish in the Top 5.
Now the next target that Blaney needs to tick off is getting through the Round of 12.
Either a visit in victory lane or staying consistent will be enough.
Although, a race win would mean a lot during his first season on higher quality equipment at Team Penske.
He hadn’t won since Pocono last year, and there are nine races left this year.
It’s not too late because driving for a new team takes time.
But with a couple of poles and Top 5s, Ryan Blaney’s closer than ever to capture his 2nd win at Cup level any time soon.
For now, he’s happy to escape Las Vegas an early scare with a much-needed finish and return to the race shop.
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