Ryan Blaney fights ill-handling car, faces uphill battle at Phoenix

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 01: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Wabash National Ford, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 01, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney manhandled his No. 12 Team Penske Ford to an eighth-place finish in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, but he finished the night 23 points behind fourth-place finisher Joey Logano—who also is fourth in the standings—for the final two spots in the Championship 4.

“It was a long night,” Blaney acknowledged. “We struggled really bad all night with track position, and then I felt like, even when we got a little bit of it, we still weren’t very good.

“We tried a lot of things tonight, and they didn’t really work. Unfortunately, we didn’t really get many stage points and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) winning didn’t help our cause, but we have to run better than that anyway.”

Nor did it help Blaney’s cause that Ryan Newman, a driver notoriously difficult to pass, held him up during a green-flag run and blocked Blaney’s run off Turn 2.

“Ryan is Ryan and he is going to race hard,” Blaney said. “I was mad that I had a massive run up top and he just turned right and it made me jump out of the gas and get tight and hit the fence.

“That’s what I was mad about. I was fine with the racing before that, but when someone has a big run like that it’s like, ‘C’mon.’”

That incident likely didn’t change Blaney’s situation heading for ISM Raceway at Phoenix.

“Gotta win,” Blaney said. “Hopefully, we go do that.”

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