By David Morgan, NASCAR Contributor
Heading into Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond, Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers Racing team had one final chance to try and win a race to move into the Chase, but for the No. 21 team, a place in the postseason was not to be after an early race crash that ended their hopes of competing for the championship.
Blaney entered the night 69 points behind Jamie McMurray for the 16th and final Chase spot on points, so the only way that Blaney would have been able to make it into the playoffs would have been to score his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and clinch a Chase berth.
After starting 20th, Blaney was holding steady around that same position, trying to get a feel for his car in the opening laps, when his car and the Ford of Trevor Bayne made contact, causing a tire rub on the left rear of Blaney’s car. Though copious amounts of smoke emanated from Blaney’s car each time he went down into the turn, he elected to stay out on track to try and ride it out, but at lap 11, his tire finally gave way and sent him into the Turn 3 wall. The impact caused major damage to Blaney’s car and he had to limp back to the garage with his Chase hopes over with.
“I don’t really know what happened to be honest with you. I thought I was clear. It looked like we were clear and could get down. The 6 got us in the left rear pretty good and it eventually cut our rear tire down. I don’t know. I have to see it but I thought I was clear and he didn’t think the same way. It is an unfortunate race deal. It stinks we are behind the wall so early in the race. I think we could maybe take more than that. I want to thank SKF for being on board. It stinks. I wish we could have worked on our car and and got it better throughout the night. We will just have to fix it and get back out there,” said Blaney.
“I definitely thought we were clear. They were telling me we were clear. Apparently the 6 just came up and got us in the rear. It was probably a stubborn headed thing by both of us. I should know better than that. It is unfortunate that we didn’t get to run to see where our car was going to go. That is the most unfortunate part about this. We didn’t even give ourselves a shot at it. That is something I will have regret about. All we can do is go on to Chicago and try to do better there.”