In an interview on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, Ryan Blaney told reporters that you never know what’s going to happen during races at the mammoth 2.66-mile track and that trouble could come at any point on the track.
On Sunday, he was proof of that. After a strong run that saw him earn 10 championship points in the first two stages of the GEICO 500, Blaney was the victim of a crash with less that 30 laps remaining.
His No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion was too damaged to continue and he was left with a 39th place finish. But with several other top drivers also being collected in crashes, Blaney didn’t take much of a hit in the championship standings. He dropped just one spot to 13th.
The disappointing finish marked a third straight week that bad fortune plagued Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team. Mechanical problems left him with a finish of 33rd at Bristol, and a crash left him 36th at Richmond.
Blaney vowed to put the bad luck behind him when he and the team hit the track at Kansas Speedway next weekend.
“I haven’t gotten torn up too much [at Talladega] in the past, and I guess I was due one, but it wasn’t the week we needed,” he said. “It’s been a few rough weeks in a row, but all you can do is get over it and move on.”
He said he wasn’t sure exactly what transpired when he was bounced into the wall as the lead pack tried to bypass the slower car driven by Gray Gaulding.
“All I know is we kind of got stacked up, and I got turned from behind,” he said. “I thought we had a pretty decent car. I was trying to work our way back up there and actually made a bad move that put us back in that spot, but we were trying to make gains and just got run into, which is unfortunate.”
For most of the race, Blaney had the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion in the lead draft. He finished ninth in the first 55-lap stage and was third in the second.
He said the race, up to the point he wrecked, wasn’t as calm as it might have seemed to some observers.
“We were racing hard, we just luckily didn’t wreck a few times,” Blaney said, “The first wreck of the day was maybe a little bit late for what people think, but I thought it was good racing until then.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood, despite his disappointment, offered hearty congratulations to two big winners at Talladega on Sunday –Jack Roush, the owner of the winning No. 17 driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and track president Grant Lynch and the staff of Talladega Superspeedway, who worked hard to attract a great crowd for Sunday’s race.
“We’re really happy to see Jack Roush back in Victory Lane,” Wood said. “He’s been both a great friend and a big part of the Ford racing team for a long, long time,” Wood said. “And we’re happy for Grant and his staff. The crowd was huge. It was a big day for everyone in the sport to see a place packed like Talladega was today.”
Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team return to the track next week at Kansas Speedway for Saturday night’s GoBowling.com 400.