Ryan Blaney finished sixth at Talladega Superspeedway in the No. 29 Draw-Tite RAM on Saturday afternoon. The Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) driver had an impressive debut in his first restrictor plate start.
Blaney qualified in the 19th position to begin the Coca-Cola 200. On lap 15, the first yellow flag of the afternoon waved for a David Starr spin in turn four. Crew Chief Doug Randolph called Blaney into the pits for a right side tire stop and Sunoco gasoline. Blaney restarted the race on lap 18 in the 17th position. When the caution flag waved for the second time on lap 27 for a spin in turn three, Randolph called the Draw-Tite RAM back onto pit road for left side tires. Blaney radioed to the team to "clean off the grill and take a tear off."
The green flag waved again on lap 36 with Blaney restarting in the 11th position. Lap 45 brought out the yellow flag once again for a Todd Bodine and Ross Chastain crash on the front stretch. Blaney had slid back to 17th place and Randolph elected for a fuel only stop. The move for track position paid off as Blaney restarted in the seventh position for the lap 51 restart. On lap 54, Blaney pushed Kurt Busch to the lead and took the lead for himself from laps 56-58.
On lap 60, a major incident off of turn four brought out the yellow flag. Randolph elected to pit for right side tires and fuel putting Blaney back onto the track in the 19th position. With only a few trucks left on the lead lap, the Draw-Tite RAM came down pit road for fuel. Blaney restarted in the 22nd position and set his sights on the front of the pack.
Blaney worked the draft and moved up to eighth place when the caution waved for a lap 76 wreck involving Ron Hornaday, Jr. in the tri-oval. The Draw-Tite RAM was finished being serviced as it restarted in eighth place bypassing pit road.
On lap 83, Hornaday, Jr. spun again setting up a seven lap shootout to the checkered flag. Blaney restarted in the 13th position. With drafting help from Kurt Busch, among other drivers, Blaney was looking for the lead on the last lap, but had to settle for a sixth place finish after a major accident triggered a yellow flag finish on the final lap of the race.
"It was a pretty solid race for the Draw-Tite RAM, and I really learned a lot," said Blaney. "It was definitely an up and down race. We were leading at times and 25th at other points in the race. I'm really looking forward to Martinsville to get back at it in the Draw-Tite RAM. Talladega was a lot wilder than I thought it was going to be. There is so much going on and things happen so fast. Two guys get hooked up, and they go by you so fast. It was a lot of fun, and I have to thank Brad Keselowski, Draw-Tite, Reese Towpower, and Cooper Standard for the opportunity."