By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
FORT WORTH, Texas – Ryan Blaney’s Ford ended the day in Texas looking like he had been through a demolition derby, but even with the damage, Blaney was still able to come away with a top-five finish.
After winning Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race and dominating two out of three stages in last year’s Texas spring race, Blaney was one of a handful of drivers everyone agreed would be in the hunt for the win.
But Sunday was anything but smooth for Blaney and his No. 12 team, between pit road issues, having to work his way back from being down a lap and damage to his car, it was a rollercoaster of a day for the newest member of Team Penske.
“That was a long day,” said Blaney. “It is a good thing it was 500 miles because we needed about every bit of it.”
Blaney started the day in second place and held steady in the top-five, but things started to go awry just 43 laps into the event as he was nailed for a pass-through penalty for an uncontrolled tire, dropping him to 14th by the end of the first stage.
He would work his way back on the lead lap and climbed into the top-10, but an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel on lap 141 would set the team back once more.
Blaney was able to get the Lucky Dog a second time and started moving back toward the top-10 when another issue befell the team, this time as a result of nose damage that he got while trying to miss the lap 179 red flag crash.
“We worked our butt off to get back up there and got a lap down and caution came out and we got the lucky dog, got some damage,” Blaney said of his up and down day.
Despite the numerous setbacks, Blaney and his Team Penske crew kept their heads down, repaired the damage as best they could, letting the 24-year old take care of the rest. Over the closing laps, Blaney would climb up the leaderboard, settling in at fifth-place when the checkered flag flew.
“It was a long day that felt like it would never end. It just felt like it would get worse and worse but everyone did a good job on this Menards Ford Fusion to get back and have a solid finish. It stinks not getting any stage points.
“We had a good car. I hate that we couldn’t see what we had with a 100-percent, intact race car. It just shows the strength of this team and hopefully we can keep showing our speed in the coming weeks.”