RYAN BLANEY No. 12 MENARDS/SYLVANIA FORD MUSTANG
STAGE ONE: 5TH
STAGE TWO: 4TH
Ryan Blaney showed top-five speed throughout Monday’s Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, resulting in a pair of top-five stage finishes as the regular season winds down in the summer months. Blaney battled some handling issues in the opening stage, but the No. 12 team went to work on the Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang during its lone pit stop of Stage 1 to come away with a fifth-place finish in the 70-lap segment. After restarting fourth to begin Stage 2, Blaney was called to pit road on lap 131 during the green flag pit cycle for four tires and a round of adjustments to combat a tight-handling condition in the center of the corners and cycled to fifth in the running order. The caution flag flew on lap 163 in the latter stages of Stage 2, allowing the No. 12 team to take another swing with adjustments as Blaney began to search around for faster lanes on the track. After restarting seventh with 18 laps remaining in the stage, Blaney navigated his way back into the top-five to come away with a fourth-place finish in Stage 2. Blaney stayed out during the stage break, allowing him to restart on the inside of row one to begin the final 116-lap segment as he worked the high line to chase down race leader Martin Truex, Jr. He found success in the higher groove as rubber began to lay down and chipped away at the deficit before green flag pit stops began to cycle on lap 235. With the laps winding down, the caution flag flew on lap 271 and the No. 12 team made the call for right side tires and fuel, but Blaney was penalized for running over equipment in the pit box, sending him to the tail end of the field for the following restart. Blaney batted to make up lost ground in the final 20 laps, but ultimately came away with a 22nd-place finish.
“Obviously, a frustrating end to what looked to be really solid day for us. I felt like we were on of the few cars that really had a shot at running down [Truex Jr.]. Fortunately, we picked up some stage points early on but definitely not the way I saw our day ending up."