By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Despite having a flat tire late in the race, Ryan Blaney rebounded to finish inside the top-10 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Contact between Blaney and Daniel Hemric cut the right front tire on the No. 12 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang. The Team Penske driver careened up the track and collected Ricky Stenhouse Jr., David Ragan, Michael McDowell, and Jimmie Johnson. The damage to Blaney’s car was minimal.
“I clipped the No. 8,” Blaney explained. “I kind of got loose and I just touched the No. 8 and as soon as I touched him I heard a pop and I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ You just have no time to slow down, so you slow down as much as you can, but wrong spot.”
Luckily for the 25-year-old, there were only 13 cars on the lead lap in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at the time. Blaney lined up 13th on the restart. In the final 113-lap green flag run to the finish, he clawed his way into 10th. Blaney’s damaged car held off Newman for the position when the checkered flag waved for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The High Point, N.C. native observed that the racing was typical for Bristol.
“Typical Bristol, I thought. I thought the bottom was gonna be a little bit more competitive. A little bit later in the race when the top kind of was dominant I got in that wreck there. I cut the right-front tire down on the restart and plowed into a couple of them.
“We got it fixed and I was glad we were able to come back. I would have liked a caution to see what we could have done, but the thing was killed. That’s a big Dent Wizard car for sure, but I’m just glad we were able to salvage a decent day. It could have been a lot worse.”
Prior to the late contact and flat tire, Blaney had contended for the lead. He finished sixth in the first stage. In the second stage, Blaney battled Chase Elliott for the lead for several laps. A caution late in the stage led to a split strategy, leaving Blaney out of the top-10.
The 10th-place finish is the 11th top-10 for Blaney this season. It is his 52nd career top-10 and came in his 150th career start.
Blaney remained ninth in the championship points standings, 246-points behind points leader Kyle Busch. He is also 105-points ahead of the playoff cutoff, held by Daniel Suarez. With two races remaining before the playoffs, Blaney has likely secured his playoff berth.