By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Ryan Blaney’s quest to earn the Wood Brothers their 100th win was ended by fuel mileage, leaving him eighth. Blaney looked as if he could win in the late stages of the I LOVE New York 355 at Watkins Glen International.
Blaney assumed the lead briefly as Brad Keselowski peeled off to pit with four laps to go. Already in fuel-saving mode, Blaney was left with a lead of several seconds over Martin Truex, Jr. However, it was not meant to be as his No. 21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Fusion stumbled exiting the esses. With few drivers able to stretch their fuel, Blaney managed to salvage an eighth place finish on the day.
In retrospect, Blaney wished he had started saving fuel sooner,
“I stumbled down the back coming to two to go, so we wouldn’t have made it. It stinks. I wish I would have saved earlier like the 78 did. I pushed hard and thought we were better to go on gas than they were. They did a good job saving. I could have done better. If I would have started saving sooner I think we would have made it. you never know. I am pretty proud of the effort. We got up front at the beginning of the day and stayed there pretty much all day. I thought our strategy was right and we had a good race car. Things just didn’t work out for us. That is just the way it goes sometimes.”
Despite the disappointing finish, Blaney ran towards the front throughout the race. Evidence of this can be seen in his Stage 2 finish, fourth. He also led briefly at the beginning of the third and final stage of the race.
Blaney was proud of the improvement from 2016 to 2017 on road courses,
“I think here and Sonoma we ran eighth at both race tracks. That is miles ahead of where we were last year. That is always what you want. You want to just keep improving and getting better. That is really all you can ask for. I am pretty proud of us getting better. Hopefully we will keep improving as years go on.”
The eighth-place finish was Blaney’s eighth Top 10 of the season and 19th of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. He sits 12th in points, 316 points behind leader Truex, locked in the Playoffs via his win at Pocono several weeks ago. However, Blaney only has eight Playoff Points while Truex has a series leading 34 Playoff Points.
Now Blaney will continue his quest to earn the Wood Brothers their 100th victory as a team next Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.