By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
After a Stage 3 spin, Ryan Blaney was able to bounce back to finish third in Sunday’s Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Throughout the 300-lap race, Blaney was consistently in the top-10 and racked up 10 stage points to his name with a third-place outing in Stage 1 being the highlight.
Despite having a solid run, Blaney struggled matching the pace the Joe Gibbs Racing trio of Martin Truex, Jr., who won the first two stages, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, laid on the competition. They led led a combined total of 250 laps.
Whereas Blaney only led a single lap back on Lap 125, yet it appeared another strong points day was in the works. However, when the race was halted on Lap 140 due to lightning and rain, his race changed.
This became evident when the race resumed on Lap 151 as Blaney struggled staying inside the top-five and then was completely out of the top-10 when the race reached its final 100 laps.
Finally on Lap 205, Blaney’s No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang lost control in Turn 3 while chasing down 19th place Harrison Burton. The right rear clipped the wall and nearly collided with his Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric.
Both were able to continue but it caused a setback for Blaney until cautions and adjustments fell into his favor. So when the 10th and final yellow came out with nine laps remaining, Blaney had worked his way up to ninth. While some of the front runners, including the JGR trio, stayed out, crew chief Jonathan Hassler kept Blaney out of the pits.
Blaney chose the outside lane and started behind race leader Chase Elliott. It was game on with four to go as Blaney pushed Elliott clear ahead of the pack. As drivers on older tires struggled and bunched the pack up, Blaney wasn’t able to battle with Elliott nor Kurt Busch, who had taken second.
Thus the battle was for third between Blaney and Kyle Larson which the former succeeded in that exchange.
Sunday’s outing marked Blaney’s sixth top-five of the season, improving to third in the regular season standings. He’ll enter Road America 31 points behind Elliott for the regular season title that rewards 15 playoff points.
Despite a 2022 points-paid victory still alluding Blaney, he was content with the decision Hassler made.
“I’m not sure as the race kind of kept progressing later into the night I thought we lost some ground between some of the other cars. I thought hot and slick during the day we were pretty competitive and then something went down and I didn’t think we were as good,” said Blaney.
“I had to go to the back and then spun out trying too hard. Jonathan made a good call to stay out the last stop. Why not, running ninth and was able to run third, so that was a good call by him. Overall, I wish it was in the hot and slick of the day because I thought we were a little bit more competitive, but not a bad finish.”
Live coverage of the Kwik Trip 250 Presented by Jockey begins Sunday, July 3 at 3:00 p.m. ET on USA Network. Elliott is the defending race winner.