After qualifying in the Top 5 since last done at Richmond (4th) a month ago, Ryan Blaney rolled off the line in 4th.
Initially, he went well when he moved up to 2nd within the 1st half of Stage 1.
Although, he struggled to reach out Joey Logano for the race lead where the No.12 Ford’s a little tight.
His Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins listened as the No.12 Team roped in to make changes to Blaney’s Ford on Lap 40:
- Air Pressure Adjustment
- Tape on the nose to add extra air
- Four new Tires
- Re-fill of Gas
Blaney went back out on the track and remained in his position for a while before William Byron’s engine expired on Lap 57.
With the yellow came out, Blaney pitted again this time for two right-side tires.
That quickie stop saw him win the race off pit road.
He’s hopeful that this tactic will help him retain the lead towards his long-term plan.
However, Joey Logano & Kevin Harvick got by him just laps before Stage 1 ended in 3rd.
Having picked up eight stage points, he stopped by pit road during the stage break.
The tactic Blaney & the No.12 Team wanted to hold on didn’t work as the car’s too tight.
So they throw in more adjustments in the hopeful of a better next run in 4th.
He did bounce back in 3rd where it’s working well during the first half of Stage 2.
But he’s freer on the exit as the No.12 Team makes an air pressure adjustment during his next green-flag stop on Lap 123.
Towards the end of Stage 2, he pitted a few laps ahead of Kevin Harvick as a way to regain the lead.
But that tactic didn’t work as he had to settle in 2nd at the halfway mark.
He pitted again during the next stage break for more wedge and air pressure adjustments to the No.12 Ford.
But he lost two spots in 4th ahead of the next restart.
During the first 50 laps, Blaney did bounce back in 2nd on his initial run.
However, he lost two spots en route to his final pit stop of the day when a battle with Kyle Larson saw him hit the wall.
With not much room, that left the No.12 Ford with some fender damage on the right rear.
He & the No.12 Team tried to bounce back with an air pressure adjustment.
Unfortunately, having seen his race car unbalanced plus carry some damage, Ryan Blaney finished in 7th.
Ryan Blaney’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season
- 32 Starts
- 8184 of 8834 Laps Completed, 92.6%
- 617 Laps Led
- Highest Starting Spot: 1st, Las Vegas in March 2018
- One Win, 3.1%
- Seven Top 5, 21.9%
- 15 Top 10 finishes, 46.9%
- Average Start: 9.8 & Finish: 14.4
- DNFs: Four, Crash (Bristol, Kansas & Daytona 2) & Engine (Charlotte 1).
- He currently sits 9th in the Drivers’ Standings with 2212 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
- 19th, Richmond 2
- 1st, Charlotte Roval
- 11th, Dover 2
- 29th, Talladega 2
- 7th, Kansas 2
It’s not wrong from Blaney to pick up as many points as he can to finish inside the Top 7-10 mark.
But it’s tough when the race car isn’t the fastest to pull off and escape the Playoff bubble with a win.
All he & the No.12 Team Penske Crew did is doing their best to at least finish inside the Top 3 which is enough.
But having tagged the wall later on with no room alongside Kyle Larson, his Playoffs campaign is over.
It’s hard to make up space when battling for a position which is the harsh reality of keeping a spot.
So hopefully when Ryan Blaney reads this post himself, it isn’t his fault.
Anyway, he did his all when Blaney first came to Team Penske as this challenge involved a much higher standard compared to when he drove for Wood Brothers Racing over the past two years.
Yes, that got off slow and not instant.
But it’s great to see Blaney take his first win for the Team Penske organization last month at the Charlotte Roval Course.
Hopefully, all the lessons he made positively and negatively over the past few months will help him regularly establish as a Top 5-7 contender in the 2019 season.
With a faster race car, Blaney can execute it nicely and pull off for a visit in victory lane.
Without it, there’s nothing much he can do about it.
For now, he will use these last four races of 2018 to capitalize significant gains and end the season in a high note.
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