HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Ryan Blaney was one spot short of clinching his ticket to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday (Oct. 22) — still he’s currently inside the playoffs before the final race of the Round of 8.
Blaney had to overcome a couple of late-race obstacles in order to finish in second behind race winner Christopher Bell.
With 55 laps to go, Blaney was involved in a close call with Kyle Larson. During green flag pit stops, Larson and Blaney were heading toward pit road with Larson coming in too hot.
Larson avoided running into the rear bumper of Blaney. But in doing so, the No. 5 hit the sand barrels at the edge of the outside pit wall, which constituted a red flag to clean up the barrels.
Along with the damage he suffered, Larson broke a tie rod in the collision and was unable to finish the race. He was credited with finishing in the 34th position after leading 96 laps.
Blaney did not know what happened behind him. All that he knew was that he felt the car got hit, and spotter Josh Williams told him that Larson hit the barrels. Yet, Blaney did not want to see his toughest competitor bring out the red flag.
“I really didn’t want to see that red flag,” Blaney said. “I thought I would like to have just raced it there with Larson because it was a hot, long run to the end, and just see who came out on pit road ahead of each other.”
Blaney then had another obstacle to overcome while trying to race Denny Hamlin for the win.
With 38 laps to go, Hamlin tried to slide-and-glide Blaney out of the lead. This back-and-forth battle between Hamlin and the No. 12 car caused contact between the two cars. Blaney did not appreciate Hamlin’s halfway attempt to slide the No. 12 car into the wall.
“He tried to slide me two or three times and failed miserably and then just decided to use me up,” Blaney said. “If you’re gonna slide somebody, slide somebody and commit. Don’t halfway do it and use me up.
“What did he say? ‘Hack?’ I think he was that today.”
While battling in turns 3 and 4, Bell was able to use the bottom lane to pass Hamlin and Blaney for the lead. William Byron would also pass them for second.
Six laps later, Hamlin hit the turn 1 wall after something broke in the steering. Hamlin ended up in 30th place.
Bell lost the lead on the pit stops under caution for Hamlin’s wreck, but he had the long-run speed to recapture the lead from Byron with 16 laps to go. After slipping back a few spots, Blaney was able to pass Byron for second.
Even though championship-contending drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Hamlin had problems, Blaney was focused on winning the race compared to a good points day.
“I knew obviously the No. 11 had a problem right in front of me, and they told me about the No. 19,” Blaney said. “I was trying to figure out how to win the damn race. I mean, that was the biggest thing.
“Tried to figure out a way to win the damn thing, and just came up short.”
Blaney will try to punch his ticket to the Championship 4 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 29. He currently sits in the fourth and final spot, 10 points above Tyler Reddick on the cut line.
About the author
Jared Haas joined the Frontstretch staff in May 2020. A graduate of Cedarville University in December 2019, Jared has been a Nascar fan since 2006. One of Jared's passion is recreating and creating Nascar cars for video games.
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