- The official box score following the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will list Ryan Blaney with an 11th-place finish but that doesn’t capture the story of how well the young driver performed on Sunday afternoon. The driver of the Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang was leading on lap 262 of the 267-lap race when the eighth caution came out. Blaney pitted during the caution for four tires but a mix of pit strategies among the leaders shuffled him back to 11th for the three-lap dash to the finish but received damage making his way back through the field, forcing the young driver to settle for an 11th-place finish. The good news is that Blaney takes over the lead in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings by three points over teammate Joey Logano.
- Blaney started seventh after qualifying was rained out on Saturday and the field was set per the NASCAR rulebook. He would quickly make his way into the top-five, but soon reported to crew chief Todd Gordon the Menards/Pennzoil Ford was too loose. A competition caution on lap 25 gave Blaney the chance to pit on lap 27 for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustment. He restarted fifth when racing resumed on lap 30.
- Shortly after going back green, Blaney reported to crew chief Todd Gordon that the Menards Ford was on the splitter at the beginning of the run and lacked rear security as run progressed. He passed teammate Logano for fourth on lap 50 and remain there until the stage end on lap 80. Blaney pitted during the stage caution and the Menards team made significant changes including track bar and air pressure. He restarted sixth when the race went green to begin Stage 2 on lap 87.
- By lap 120 Blaney was up to third as the No. 12 Menards Ford’s handling improved greatly from his first run of the day. He pitted on lap 123 for four tires, fuel and an additional air pressure adjustment. Excellent work by the No. 12 crew propelled Blaney to third during the pit cycle and then a few laps later he passed Martin Truex Jr. for second. Stage 2 would finish under caution with Blaney coming home second just behind Chase Elliott. When Blaney pitted during the stage break, Gordon continued to make track bar and air pressure adjustments along with a piece of tape on the nose to aid Blaney’s run to the finish. Great pit work by the Menards crew gave their driver the lead on lap 163.
- When the race went green on lap 166, Blaney diced for the lead with Logano, Elliott and Kevin Harvick for next 51 laps. Elliott slipped by the No. 12 Mustang on lap 205 when Blaney said his Menards/Pennzoil Ford was losing front turn. He made a scheduled green flag pit stops on lap 218 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Four laps later the seventh caution of the race came out for an accident involving Elliott, giving Blaney the free pass back to the lead lap. Gordon called his driver to pit road on lap 224 for four tires. Blaney restarted third and made his charge to the front, passing Harvick for second and finding a way around Logano for the lead on lap 255.
- He was steadily pulling away when the eighth caution came out on lap 263 for a spin by Ross Chastain. Gordon made the call to pit for four tires and different pit strategies among the leaders shuffled Blaney back to 11th for the final restart of the race on lap 265. Armed with fresher tires, Blaney immediately went to work moving through the field but unfortunately received damage in the process.
Quote: “It was just a tough situation for our Menards/Pennzoil team. I thought we had it once we were in clean air. The caution came out and we pitted; some guys didn’t, some guys took two tires and we just ended up getting torn up trying to drive back though the field. It’s easy to look back on it and say we should have stayed out. That’s a tough call for Todd Gordon, but I’ve got to thank him for giving me a great Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang. We were so good on long runs and that’s something to hold our heads up high about. It just stinks about the finish.”