RYAN BLANEY No. 12 MENARDS/TARKETT FORD MUSTANG
STAGE ONE: 6TH
STAGE TWO: 8TH
Ryan Blaney took the checkered flag sixth in Sunday's South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to open the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 but, following post-race inspection, the No. 12 Menards/Tarkett Ford Mustang was disqualified as NASCAR deemed the left-front shock did not meet the overall specified length outlined in the rule book. The disqualification relegated Blaney to a 36th-place finish and Team Penske's decision on whether to appeal the ruling has yet to be announced.
Blaney had strong, long-run speed on display from the drop of the green flag Sunday after starting 12th, quickly working his way towards the top-five during the opening run of the 400-mile event. Following a scheduled green flag stop on lap 34 while running sixth, Blaney cycled to fourth in the running order before a caution on lap 64 brought the leaders to pit road with the laps winding down in Stage 1. With some teams opting for two tires instead of four, Blaney lined up to restart sixth with nine to go in the stage and held his position for the remainder of the opening segment. Following another four-tire stop at the stage break, Blaney charged his way back into the top-five on lap 108 while battling issues with front turn and rear security during the run. After the caution flag flew on lap 111, crew chief Jonathan Hassler went back on his adjustments from earlier in the race when Blaney made the trip to pit road under yellow. Two-tire strategies among the leaders shuffled the running order for the following restart, but Blaney managed to work his way back to eighth by the conclusion of Stage 2. The Menard/Tarkett Ford Mustang took the green flag ninth to begin the final stage and Blaney's long-run prowess took over as he battled his way up to fourth on the leaderboard by lap 205, making his way around the Nos. 11 and 1 in turns three and four. Following a pair of cautions on laps 209 and 217, Blaney lined up 11th for the final restart with 45 laps to go and picked off traffic ahead of him one-by-one in the closing laps to take the checkered flag sixth.
Blaney enters the second race of the Round of 8 eighth in the points standings, 56 points below the cut line.