Ryan Blaney Rebounds from Penalty to Win at Bristolby Kyle Pokrefky August 20, 2015 0 comments
BRISTOL, Tenn. — Prevailing on a green-white-checkered restart thanks to a slowed Matt Crafton, Ryan Blaney took the checkered flag at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday night in the Camping World Truck Series’s UNOH 200.
Leading the first 37 laps of the race, Blaney didn’t retake the lead until two laps to go after battling all the way back from a Lap 38 penalty after it was deemed that he jumped a restart too early.
With his rebound performance, the 21-year-old out of High Point, N.C. scored his fourth career Camping World Truck Series win and his first at Bristol in the series.
“It feels really good to finally get in victory lane with this No. 29 team,” Blaney said. “I’ve had a chance to drive this truck four times this year and we’ve come really close every single time. To finally get in victory lane in my last start of the year in this truck – it means a lot to get Chad [Kendrick, crew chief] and Brad [Keselowski, owner] into victory lane. At a place like this where I remember growing up watching my dad race as a kid, it’s really special.”
Being sent to the rear of the field following his early race penalty, Blaney talked about what led to his penalty in his post-race presser and stated that he was shocked that he was penalized in the first place.
“My take was the No. 00 [Cole Custer] laid back a lot,” Blaney stated. “He was about a car length behind me, and to me, he didn’t maintain caution car speed at all. As soon as the caution car pulled off, he stopped pretty much. I maintained speed and he was going to try to get a run – just like anyone tries to do, which is what you have to do – if you start on the bottom if you want to have a shot at that. I wasn’t going to give him that run, I wasn’t going to start creeping forward.
“They made it look worse than it was with him being so slow for sure. I’m pretty sure yo have to have a warning, for every restart I’ve seen with people going a bit early, I’ve always seen a warning. That honestly shocked me that they black flagged us with no warning, when it wasn’t five car lengths before the line or anything. When it was something as small as that, it kind of surprised me. Luckily, it worked out.”
Coming across the finish line in the top-three behind Blaney were pole-sitter Kyle Busch and 18-year-old John Hunter Nemechek.
Nemechek was on the cusp of collecting his first series win after running second late into a green-flag run before a Lap 197 caution flew for an accident involving Ty Dillon and Ben Kennedy just as Nemechek was passed by Blaney for second.
While the driver of the No. 8 MeetBall Chevrolet didn’t have anything for Blaney and Busch on the ensuing restart, he did come home with his best career Camping World Truck Series finish.
“I thought we had something for Crafton,” said Nemechek regarding the leader of the race prior to the caution. “I knew Blaney was coming really hard there with fresh tires – he was gaining three tenths a lap. You just had to race smart there at the end.
“Yeah, you wanted to win and you wanted to keep him behind you but he was going to get by you one way or another. You needed to be smart, and my crew chief said ‘let him go, let him go.’ That’s what we did and we got beat by him.”
Rounding out positions four-through-10 of the race standings were Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, Erik Jones, Matt Crafton, Tyler Reddick, Johnny Sauter and Dalton Sargeant.
Crafton was able to successfully rebound after having fuel issues on the restart to come home with a solid top-10 finish – just one spot ahead of the current championship leader, Reddick.
Erik Jones’s presence in the top-10 further tightened up the championship battle as Reddick exits Bristol with a six-point lead over Crafton and a seven-point lead over Jones.
16th-place finisher Custer was the dominant driver of the night, leading twice for 111 laps, but was taken out of contention after being wrapped up in the fourth caution of the day on Lap 161 after running into the spinning No. 23 Chevrolet of Spencer Gallagher.
As Custer slowed following his incident with Gallagher, Crafton had just snuck by the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet to claim the lead at the scoring loop at the time of the caution. Shortly after the caution flew, the red flag flew for a rain shower that resulted in the track being lost. The red flag period lasted for 45 minutes and 50 seconds.
The Camping World Truck Series returns to action on Sunday, August 30th, for the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Top-10 Finishers of the UNOH 200
- 29 – Ryan Blaney(i) – Ford – Brad Keselowski Racing
- 54 – Kyle Busch(i) – Toyota – Kyle Busch Motorsports
- 8 – John Hunter Nemechek# – Chevrolet – SWM-NEMCO Motorsports
- 14 – Daniel Hemric# – Chevrolet – NTS Motorsports
- 33 – Brandon Jones# – Chevrolet – GMS Racing
- 4 – Erik Jones# – Toyota – Kyle Busch Motorsports
- 88 – Matt Crafton – Toyota – ThorSport Racing
- 19 – Tyler Reddick – Ford – Brad Keselowski Racing
- 98 – Johnny Sauter – Toyota – ThorSport Racing
- 5 – Dalton Sargeant – Toyota – Wauters Motorsports
Top-10 in the Drivers Standings after Round 14 of 23
- 19 – Tyler Reddick – Brad Keselowski Racing – 550 | Leader
- 88 – Matt Crafton – ThorSport Racing – 544 | -6
- 4 – Erik Jones# – Kyle Busch Motorsports – 543 | -7
- 98 – Johnny Sauter – ThorSport Racing – 497 | -53
- 14 – Daniel Hemric# – NTS Motorsports – 460 | -90
- 13 – Cameron Hayley# – ThorSport Racing – 451 | -99
- 17 – Timothy Peters – Red Horse Racing – 448 | -102
- 05 – John Wes Townley – Athenian Motorsports – 447 | -103
- 23 – Spencer Gallagher# – GMS Racing – 416 | -134
- 11 – Ben Kennedy – Red Horse Racing – 410 | -140
# = Rookie, (i) = Ineligible for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images