Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team battled loose handling and ill-timed cautions early in the Apache Warrior 400 at Dover International Speedway, ended up finishing 23rd but still advanced to the second round of the NASCAR Playoffs.
“Yeah, there is a silver lining in that for sure,” said Blaney reflecting on the race and looking toward the next three races that comprise Round 2.
After winning the XFINITY Series race on Saturday, and starting 11th today, Blaney certainly was expecting a better finish than 23rd, but the Monster Mile didn’t cooperate. The Wood Brothers’ iconic No. 21 was loose in the early going and slipped back to 21st before the first chance to pit on lap 80 to make adjustments.
A yellow- then red-flag period soon followed, allowing the leaders to pit without penalty and put Blaney down two laps. He finished Stage 1 in 21st place. Stage 2 netted a 24th-place result.
Following the final green-flag pit stop of the afternoon, Blaney was able to pass other laps-down cars to move from 25th to 23rd by the time the checkered flag flew over Dover.
“It is definitely not the day we wanted and we got trapped a lap down early, didn’t fire off very good,” Blaney said. “At least we got our car a little better the last 100 laps or so but then we had an issue and I had to take it easy toward the end. It figures. We got the car better and then just had to kind of ride around the last 60 laps or so. That stunk.”
The issue was an overheating gear in the transmission that required some tender loving care to ensure a running finish and advancement into Round 2 of the Playoffs.
“The main goal is to transfer and I think the second round is really good for us,” Blaney said. “I am really excited about that. I am excited to get to Charlotte.”
Blaney equated getting past the three first-round tracks as almost a survival situation, knowing that he’s had better runs at the Round 2 tracks.
“I think the tracks just play into our favor,” he said. “We are really fast at 1.5-mile race tracks and had a good run at Kansas earlier and speedways we run great. Charlotte, we had a broken axle earlier this year but we were pretty decent in that race before that happened. The 1.5-mile tracks seem to be our strong suit and hopefully we can keep that up and keep making that our strong suit.”
After the points are re-set for the start of Round 2, Blaney sits in ninth with 3,008 points, 51 points behind the leader Martin Truex, Jr.
NASCAR Playoffs Round 2 starts next Sunday, Oct. 8 with the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The green flag drops at 2 p.m. and will be televised on NBC.
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