RYAN BLANEY No. 12 MENARDS/RICHMOND FORD MUSTANG
STAGE ONE: 28TH
STAGE TWO: 16TH
Despite starting outside of the top-20 to begin Sunday's 220.5-mile race at Watkins Glen, Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Menards/Richmond team saw an improvement in their Ford Mustang's pace from Saturday afternoon to work through traffic in the early going. After battling his way into the top-20, Blaney was brought to pit road for a scheduled, green-flag stop on lap 15 for four tires and fuel before the end of Stage 1 as differing race strategies throughout the field came to light during the opening run. Blaney was scored 28th at the conclusion of Stage 1 on lap 20, but raced his way up to 17th by the time the green flag pit cycle completed. He continued to find more speed in clean air as the field was strung out all over the 2.45 mile course as Stage 2 stayed green for the entirety of the 20-lap stretch, resulting in a 16th-place finish in the second segment. As the No. 12 team worked to maximize the fuel run to make it the end on a two-stop strategy, Blaney charged up to 13th in the running order before hitting pit road under green on lap 53 for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments. Blaney rejoined the field just in front of the leader to remain on the lead lap as green flag stops continued to take place. Shortly after the No. 12 team's stop, the caution flag flew on lap 55 which shuffled the field as teams were on several different strategies, allowing Blaney to restart seventh with 30 laps to go. Blaney eventually settled into tenth in the running order and made the pass for ninth with 15 laps to go before holding his position the rest of the way.