By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
FORT WORTH, Texas – It wasn’t the ideal outcome, but Ryan Blaney put in a solid sixth-place finish to keep himself in the championship mix in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 23-year-old Ohio native started eighth, but managed to climb into the top three before losing the rear of the car while defending his position entering Turn 2 on Lap 258 and fading quickly the of the backend top 10. From there, Blaney struggled to regain the lost track position, but quietly moved up to record his 14th top 10 result of the season.
“We didn’t start off very good and we got really good towards the middle and had one run where I was super-loose towards the end,” said Blaney, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Fusion.
“I gave up like five spots. I got real loose and that was unfortunate, but we got our car a little bit better at the end. We kind of restarted eighth and ran sixth.
“Thanks to the effort by the Wood Brothers group and hopefully we’ll have a good Phoenix.”
In all, the addition of stage points has him sixth in the overall standings with one race remaining before the top four advance to the championship-deciding season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. As it stands, Blaney is 22 points behind Brad Keselowski for the final transfer spot.
“I was happy with not being great the first stage and running eighth there and then getting better and finishing third in the second one,” said Blaney.
“We had our car better and that effort was pretty good.”
Three of Blaney’s Playoff rivals – Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. – have punched their ticket to Homestead, which put him in a desperate position next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.
“You pretty much have to go and win the race,” said Blaney. “That’s all we can do. It’s going be hard to point your way in because everyone is running pretty good.
“We’ll just try to win Phoenix and do the best we can.”