Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion were major players for the majority of Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
But a multi-car crash with six of the race’s scheduled 160 laps left to run ended Blaney’s night and left him with a 26th-place finish.
Up to that point, he’d been able to move through the field at will and led the race for nine circuits, from Lap 127 to Lap 135.
Just prior to the crash that ended his night, Blaney was racing for the top spot, chose the inside lane, but got no drafting help. He dropped back outside the top 20 but was on his way back to the front when Kyle Larson lost control, made contact with another car and sailed into the air right in front of Blaney, who was against the outside wall and had no escape route.
“I am not sure what happened,” Blaney said. “I saw the 42 [Larson] get turned and get up in the air a little bit.
“I just couldn’t miss him. I was already on the top and I hate that I t-boned him. I just couldn’t get out of the way.”
Not being able to race on to the finish was especially disappointing given the speed of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion. Earlier, Blaney collected nine stage points by finishing third in Stage One and 10th in Stage Two. He continued to run among the leaders once the first two stages were complete.
“I thought we had a really good car,” he said. “We were racing hard. Everyone was racing hard.
“I can’t thank Motorcraft Quick Lane and Ford enough for what they do. We had a super fast Fusion, but it is just the way it goes sometimes. We will go on to Kentucky.”
Blaney remains 13th in the championship standings heading into Saturday night’s 400-miler at Kentucky Speedway.