DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Many people in NASCAR agree that it’s not if, but when Ryan Blaney will win a Cup race. Sunday, he almost pulled it off.
In just his second full season with the famed Wood Brothers Racing, and his fourth Daytona 500, Blaney overcame a great deal of adversity during Speedweeks 2017.
In a back-up car after a practice crash, Blaney started from the rear of the 40 car field. Methodically working his way through the field, Blaney avoided the carnage that took out many favorites in the field. His Ford did sustain slight damage in a 10-car crash on lap 127. Coming in to get that repaired a few laps later, he was rear-ended and sustained even more damage.
Blaney raced on, and was eleventh with three laps to go. In the closing laps however mayhem erupted in front of him and Blaney took advantage. As several of the front runners began to run out of fuel, Blaney maneuvered his way forward. On the final lap Blaney was second and looking for the win.
When the checkered flag fell, Blaney came up one spot short losing to winner Kurt Busch by .228 of a second.
“I tried to make a move with 10 to go to see what would happen,” Blaney said. “No one really went with me. The 22 (Logano) tried to. It really wasn’t happening. I was kind of worried it was just going to end that way. Luckily I got Joey behind me there down the frontstretch, and we were able to lay back to him and get a huge run into one. At that same moment, the 41 (Kurt Busch) went to go past the 42 (Larson), and it kept my run going, all the way up to second. Down the back, I look in my mirror, I see the 47 (Allmendinger) car. I’ll just lay back to him, we’ll get a big run. I started kind of running out the gas there into three. We started sputtering pretty bad. Luckily made it back to the line.”
Despite coming up short of winning the 500, Blaney still has a lot of years ahead of him and few would disagree that a win won’t come soon. Sunday, Blaney seemed upbeat and positive.
“Any time you get a good finish anywhere, no matter what track, it always propels you into the next week,” he said. “Maybe it feels a little better it’s the Daytona 500.”
“No matter where it is, if you get a good finish, it definitely helps your team confidence-wise for the next week and maybe a couple weeks after that.”