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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Pit Road Mistake Derails Blaney’s Texas Performance

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After leading 140 laps in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Ryan Blaney finished outside the top-10.

Starting second, the Wood Brothers Racing driver passed Kevin Harvick on a Lap 16 restart to take the top spot. He then led until the checkered flag in Stage 1, continuing to throughout Stage 2.

“If you would have asked me if we would have been so good at the first two stages yesterday, I wouldn’t have thought so, and that definitely means a lot,” Blaney said. “It teaches us a lot what we need to do as far as changes from practice to race. It definitely helped being up front, as well.”

When a caution flew for debris with seven laps to go in Stage 2, Blaney elected to stay out while others pitted, keeping first and winning the stage. As a result, when he pitted, 19 cars stayed out bumping him back to 20th.

From there, Blaney slowly made up ground, moving into the eighth spot before a caution with 35 to go for debris. Unfortunately, a slow pit stop due to sliding through his stall resulted in him falling back outside the top-20.He then rebounded to finish 12th.

“We were kind of pinned in between the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), and there was a weird angle, and I just stopped a little deep, and I hurt us on that one for sure,” he said. “But we just weren’t able to pass anybody after that. No one really could do that. I would have liked to have seen it widen out a little bit more than it did today. I know if you tried to move up half a lane to a lane it wasn’t really good, but hopefully in time that gets better and better.

“Not a bad day for us. It’s nice to win a couple segments, but I want to lead the last lap. That’s the lap I care about, but I thought we made a big gain today as a team.”

Despite not getting the finish he wanted, Blaney says a big confidence boost but knows there is work to do.

“We’re great in the first half of races, we just need to figure out how to finish them off, and that’s tough part to do,” he said. “That’s where I think some of these great teams really rise up and can finish races and position themselves for the end of these races, and with this team, I feel like we’re getting better at that. Fast cars definitely help, we just have to try to find ourselves in position to be up front towards the end and to have a fast enough car to try to compete for a win.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.