- Ryan Blaney’s up and down day in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway ended with a 15th-place finish on Sunday afternoon. The driver of the No. 12 Menards / Knauf Ford Mustang overcame a pit road speeding penalty during the first caution to be in contention late in the race, but a lack of drafting help at end ultimately cost him a shot at the victory.
- Blaney rolled off from the seventh on the starting grid when the green flag dropped on Sunday afternoon. Within the first 10 laps of the 188-lap event, Blaney had moved into the runner-up position. Working with Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, Blaney eventually got himself to the lead on lap nine. He narrowly avoided disaster when a bump draft from Bubba Wallace went badly. The driver of the Menards / Knauf Ford was sideways and the entrance to Turn 1 on lap 12, but he kept control as a multi-car incident unfolded behind him.
- The first round of pit stops came under caution on lap 14. The team opted for a fuel-only pit stop, but unfortunately Blaney was caught speeding on the exit of pit road. He subsequently returned to pit road a lap later to serve the penalty and crew chief Jeremy Bullins opted to change four tires. When racing resumed on lap 16 Blaney wasted no time driving back through the field getting himself back in the top 10 by lap 40. He pitted on lap 47 along with teammates Keselowski, Logano for a fuel-only pit stop. Blaney finished 23rd when Stage 1 concluded on lap 55 and pitted during the stage caution for tires and fuel.
- Blaney stayed up front throughout Stage 2 and took the lead from Logano on lap 74. The driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang made another fuel-only pit stop under green on lap 91. He cycled his way back inside the top-five and scored a fourth-place finish when the segment ended on lap 110. Blaney pitted during the stage caution on lap 113 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
- Blaney continued jockey for positon at the front of the field during Stage 3 thanks to drafting help from his Penske teammates. The final round of pit service came on lap 153 where the Menards / Knauf crew took right-side tires and fuel.
- He made another masterful save in Turn 3 on lap 176 after a tremendous push from Martin Truex Jr. but dropped Blaney to back of the lead pack. But the determined young driver made one final charge to the front, thanks to drafting help from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Unfortunately what ground he gained was soon lost thanks to the seesaw effect of the racing in the lead pack. Blaney narrowly avoid two late-race incidents in the final six laps to score a 15th-place finish. He remains ninth in the MENCS driver standings.
“It was a tough race today for the Menards / Knauf team. The new package allowed us to make moves, but unfortunately we got shuffled out late and didn’t have time to get back to the front.”