No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney
Stage 1: 5th
Stage 2: 7th
Laps Completed: 500/500
Laps Led: 45
Point Standings (behind first): 4th (-35)
- Ryan Blaney started seventh and finished fourth in Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race 500, while leading 45 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway. Blaney ran inside the top-five for the majority of the race, and he clinched a position in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 by the conclusion of the second stage. Blaney will carry 24 playoff points with him into the next round, which begins next weekend at Las Vegas.
- Through the opening stage of the race, Blaney reported the Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang was a handling a little free, as crew chief Todd Gordon called for an air pressure adjustment during the lap 40 competition caution period. Blaney remained inside the top five and he collected six points at the end of Stage 1 as he concluded the stage running in fifth place.
- Blaney continued his top-five performance until a caution with less than 25 laps remaining in the second stage. During the caution, the Menards/Richmond team elected to pit and look for the opportunity to cycle forward at the end of the stage. Blaney was able to move forward to the seventh position before the end of the stage with the No. 12 Ford Mustang team electing to remain on the track at the end of the stage.
- During the first long run in the final stage, Blaney told the team he was struggling on front turn in the Menards/Richmond Ford and he settled into the fourth position after leading numerous laps, as he generated lap times comparable to the cars with fresher tires. The team returned to pit road at lap 392 and made a trackbar adjustment, in an effort to give Blaney the handling he needed on a potential long run to the checkered flag.
- Blaney continued to run well, while others around him had trouble, as he made the most of his adjustments on the long run to the checkered flag. Blaney’s fourth-place result in the Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang marked the ninth top-five finish of the season for the No. 12 Ford team, and the fourth in the last six races.
Quote: “I thought tonight we did a good job of just staying kind of in the hunt all night. I felt like we kind of ran top five most of the night. It wasn’t the best car. I’d take off really good, but I couldn’t keep the long run speed as good as other guys, like the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was crazy fast on the long run and we just didn’t quite have that speed, but I thought we were a little better that last run and were kind of able to keep pace with the leaders, but just not quite enough. I’m proud of the effort. It’s nice to move onto the next round, that’s for sure, and look forward to Vegas.”