RYAN BLANEY EMERGES FOR WIN IN FIRST BANK OF AMERICA ROVAL 400 AT CHARLOTTE

  • Ryan Blaney scored his first Cup Series victory with Team Penske in the inaugural Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The win was his second victory in 119 MENCS races.
  • Blaney started ninth in the 109-lap event and on lap six, the driver of the Menards/Pennzoil Ford Fusion reported that he was fighting rear grip issues over the course of the run. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins advised Blaney conserve his tires over the 17-turn road-course.
  • Bullins called Blaney to pit road for their first scheduled stop of the race on lap 14 for an air pressure adjustment as Blaney reported he needed more rear grip and that he was tight everywhere. He made a late charge to the front over the final laps of Stage 1 to score a 10th-place finish and collect a valuable stage point. The team chose not to pit during the stage caution and Blaney restarted in the top five when the race went green on lap 29.
  • Throughout Stage 2, the leaders who hadn’t yet visited pit road began making their first stops of the afternoon. Blaney cycled into the lead on lap 37 and held off a hard-charging Jimmie Johnson – who also had the advantage of fresher tires than Blaney – to win the stage, his sixth stage win of the 2018 season. Bullins decided to bring Blaney to pit road during the stage caution on lap 52 for chassis and air pressure adjustments to the No. 12 Ford in an effort to give Blaney needed grip. He restarted outside the top 15 when the race went green on lap 54.
  • The Menards/Pennzoil team brought Blaney to pit road under green on lap 70, inside the window to making it to the end of the race on fuel. Afterwards, Blaney got into a spirited battle with Alex Bowman and Clint Bowyer – all three of which were fighting to make it into the Round of 12.
  • A caution flag with eight laps remaining changed the complexity of the race. On the restart, Blaney received slight right-front damage in the aftermath of a 15-car pileup in Turn 1. Bullins and the team chose to keep Blaney on the track as points and track position were at a premium.
  • When the race went back green on lap 104, Blaney fought his way into the top-three behind leader Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. Coming to the final corner, Johnson, in a last-ditch effort to win the race, slid into Truex Jr., causing both cars to spin within sight of the finish line. Blaney avoided the incident and beat Jamie McMurray to the finish line to win, his first victory of the 2018 season.
  • Blaney enters the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs sixth in the Cup Series standings and claimed the 501st victory for Team Penske.

Quote: “We restarted sixth the last one there and got to third with a couple of laps to go. I was really just riding there in third. We were good to go on points and was going to advance to the next round on points. They were so far ahead I wasn’t even really trying to catch them and then I saw them close to each other through the oval track and I was like, ‘Oh, something might happen here.’ I went down in there, they touched and I was lucky to sneak through there. I’d rather go out and dominate the race and win by a lap, but you’ve got to take them how you can get them. We put ourselves in position. We did a great job all day of winning a stage and putting us in a good spot for points. It just worked out for us.” 

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