Blaney nurses wounded car to eighth-place finish and advances

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 28: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Duracell Ford, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on September 28, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Defending race winner Ryan Blaney didn’t have a smooth afternoon in Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course, but he salvaged an eighth-place finish-with the help of two timely cautions—and advanced to the second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

Blaney made hard contact with the wall on Lap 58, and crew chief Jeremy Bullins contemplated bringing the No. 12 Team Penske Ford to pit road immediately, but opted against that course of action.

Daniel Hemric’s spin on the banking on Lap 62, gave Blaney a chance to come to pit road under yellow, and the team went to work on the rear suspension. Another caution, for eventual  winner Chase Elliott’s collision with the Turn 1 tire barrier on Lap 65, provided a chance for more repairs, and Blaney was able to improve his track position throughout the closing stages of the race, after restarting 36th on Lap 67.

He was ninth for the final restart on Lap 104 and moved up one position before the finish, earning a trip to the Round of 12.

“We definitely had a lot of ups and downs,” Blaney said. “I thought we did a pretty decent job most of the day finding ourselves towards the front. There were a lot of mixed strategies with the way the cautions fell.

“I messed up really bad and hit the fence and really set us back, but I’m really proud of the whole group for fighting and getting it fixed to where we could make some ground.”

Greg Engle