RYAN BLANEY No. 12 MENARDS/MOEN FORD MUSTANG
STAGE ONE: 34TH
STAGE TWO: 28TH
POINTS: 3RD (-24)
Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Menards/Moen team took the green flag Sunday from the back half of the field, forcing some early strategy calls to gain track position in the opening stage. After reporting a tight-handling condition on the opening run, Blaney was one of the first to hit pit road on lap 17 for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments, but was penalized for speeding on the exit of pit road which resulted in a pass-through penalty. After rejoining the lead lap once the green flag pit cycle was complete, the No. 12 team stretched its fuel window as far as possible and saw the caution flag fly on lap 49 right as they were planning another scheduled green-flag stop in the coming laps. Blaney reported the Menards/Moen Ford Mustang's handling was better overall during the second run of the afternoon, allowing him to drive up into the top-10 during the ensuing green flag pit stop cycle that began around lap 70. After making a scheduled trip to pit road on lap 85 from 15th-place, the caution flag flew on lap 91, allowing Blaney to stay out and cycle up to third for what ended up being the final restart of the afternoon. Blaney held his ground in the top-10 of the running order on older tires as the laps wound down but was spun twice in the final seven laps – taking him off-course both times – which relegated him to a 31st-place finish.
"We had our work cut out for us starting in the back, for sure, forcing us to play more into the strategy side of things. Mistakes cost us early, but our No. 12 group rallied to have us in the right place at the right time at the end there. It looked like we'd be able to steal a top-10 to salvage the day, but the chaos of the closing laps had other plans for us."