Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) overcame a lack of track time to grab a third place finish in the UNOH 225 Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway.
A steady rain washed out practice and qualifying prior to the start of the race and the event started with zero track time for the 31 competitors. The lack of preparation wasn't a roadblock for Blaney. The driver of the Cooper Standard Ford F-150 scored a third place finish in the race, his third top 10 in four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Kentucky.
But the race wasn't without its challenges for Blaney, who wrestled a loose handling truck throughout the event and who had to rally back from a pit road penalty.
After running inside the top five during the early stage of the race, Ryan pitted for right side tires under the third caution on lap 45. He restarted second and grabbed the lead on lap 48, holding the top spot for the next 11 laps. But the loose condition returned and the truck got looser as the laps ticked off.
A scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 99 nearly ruined Blaney's chance for a good finish when he was penalized for a tire violation.
The fourth caution on lap 103 was a huge break, allowing the team to serve the penalty and to pit for four tires and more adjustments. He lined up 15th when the race went green on lap 107 and had climbed back up to ninth place when the fifth caution waved on lap 127.
Crew chief Chad Kendrick chose not to pit during this yellow and cycled into the race lead when the leaders ahead of him stopped for service. He restarted in first place, just ahead of teammate Tyler Reddick, when the green flag waved on lap 132.
Three more cautions (plus two red flag delays) would punctuate the final 13 laps but this was most costly for Blaney, who was shuffled back to second place as the field came up to speed.
On lap 134 the sixth caution waved, setting up a restart on lap 136. Blaney lined up second on the inside line just ahead of Reddick. The bottom lane proved to be a disadvantage for Blaney, who slipped back to third shortly after the green flag waved.
The seventh caution slowed the race on lap 141. Blaney maintained his position on the following restart on lap 144 but the final dash to the finish was cut short due to a crash involving Ben Kennedy on lap 145 that damaged the catchfence in Turn 1. The damage forced NASCAR officials to end the race five laps short of the scheduled 150-lap distance and Ryan was officially credited with third place in the final rundown.