- Ryan Blaney started the Menards/Duracell Ford Fusion from the 21st starting position in Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
- Under threating skies, the start of the race was delayed one hour due to lightning in the area. When the race finally went green, Blaney’s 2003 Jasper Motorsports throwback Ford moved quickly inside the top-20. He reported early to his crew that he was very tight on exit. The first round of green flag pit stops came on lap 47. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called for a wedge and air pressure adjustment to free up the bright yellow Ford. The changes did not make a significant difference and the torrid pace set by leader Kyle Larson put the Menards/Duracell Ford a lap down around the 70-lap point. Blaney would finish stage 1 in the 19th position.
- The second round of service came on lap 104. The No. 12 team made multiple adjustments including wedge and air pressure to help with turn security.
- The changes didn’t help and Blaney began to slide the nose on the exit of the corners. He pitted again on a lap 120 caution and reversed both changes. He tried to race his way into the free pass position, but was not able to. He would finish stage 2 in the 19th position.
- During the race’s final stage, Blaney continued to fight a very tight car to start the run and very loose to finish. Additional pit stops on lap 248 and 286 saw the Menards/Duracell crew make different chassis and air pressure adjustments to try and get the car to Blaney’s liking around the 1.366 mile egg-shaped oval.
- The final 50-plus laps saw three caution periods. Blaney managed to use the waive-around and make up both laps he was in arear to the leader. In the end Blaney crossed the line in the 15th position, a net gain of six positions from the start. Blaney now sits ninth in the Cup Series points standings with one regular season race remaining.
Quote: “First of all congratulations to Brad Keselowski and the entire No. 2 team on an awesome win. Unfortunately we just couldn’t seem to get the handling where we wanted it today at Darlington. I appreciate all the hard work my team put in this weekend and we’ll focus on Indianapolis next week and playoff opener in two weeks at Las Vegas.”