INDIANAPOLIS — Ryan Blaney entered Sunday’s Verizon 200 needing to win. While he was 105 points up on the cutline in the race to the postseason, with as wild as this season was going, a win was the easiest way to ensure he doesn’t miss out.
He leaves the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2nd in points. But he also leaves 15th in the playoff standings in a sport that only takes 16 drivers to it’s playoffs.
So, while finishing 2nd in the first stage to get 9 points, then being 15th in the second stage, they were going to try a swing for the fence. A home run or strike out call.
Blaney pit for four tires and fuel on Lap 32. His final stop on Lap 53, they’d take fuel only. It gave them the track position to contend. He was 2nd now and had his sights set on a Brickyard victory.
However, with a longer green flag run and older tires, Chase Elliott would pass Blaney for 2nd on Lap 73. Blaney was now 3rd and held off AJ Allmendinger for lap after lap until Christopher Bell brought out a caution on Lap 77.
Blaney now had new life and a car that he could win with. A quick caution came and he’d restart 3rd again in overtime. He was 3 wide in Turn 1 with Daniel Suarez and AJ Allmendinger but was spun off track by Suarez then hit by his teammate Austin Cindric which dropped him down to a 26th place result instead.
“No it’s a case of just getting wrecked,” Blaney said. “That’s all people do at the end of these things. Just dive in there and wreck you. I don’t know who shoved who and I don’t care, but tires didn’t matter at the end. We restarted in the top 3 both times and tires don’t really matter. It’s just a matter of getting through on the restart but apparently that’s a hard thing to ask. People just run over each other.”
Now Blaney is +121 on in the playoff standings after being +105 entering the day.