Ryan Blaney is seething mad at himself right now. If he could get out of his own way, then Blaney would be in a far better position heading into the Round of 8 elimination race on Sunday afternoon at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway in a far better situation than he is currently at this moment. The stats show Blaney is -18 for the final spot to the Championship 4. However, if you take in account that if not for two mistakes while running inside of the top 5 in consecutive weeks, he may as well be well ahead of the cutline instead.
Blaney spun and got into the wall two weeks ago in Las Vegas. That was the opening race of this round. He had a top 3 car that day, but that costly mistake dropped him to a 28th place result.
Then, last Sunday in Homestead, he marched all the way up to 4th by the end of the second stage and was third when he pit for the second to last time on Lap 209. They were going to two stop the final stage but he brought out the caution that ruined that strategy when he downshifted instead of upshifted which caused his No. 12 Ford to spin.
Instead of a top five at the very least, he was 16th.
“Downshifted like a complete moron,” a dejected Blaney said on what happened while exiting the pits. “It’s just disappointing, mainly to myself the last two weeks, I’ve not done a good job executing at all from wrecking last week and a bonehead move like that this week. The 12 group doesn’t deserve that. I’m disappointed in myself and can’t have that. It’s pretty unacceptable.”
Each could be the reason that he’s not fighting for a championship in Phoenix too.
“Just go try to win Martinsville,” he continued. “That’s all we can do. Go try to run up front and have a good day, and that’s all we can ask for, just try to stay in the game and hopefully the driver doesn’t cost us anything.”
It’s ironic that the final driver into the postseason field, the only one to have not won a race this postseason in a year that has seen 19 different drivers reach victory lane during a points paying race, is likely facing a must-win situation in the Xfinity 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN).
Blaney is now on a 44 race winless drought with his last victory coming in the 2021 regular season finale at Daytona. While he’s also winless in his career at Martinsville, it’s not like he’s been bad there either though.
He was fourth in the spring race while also coming home runner-up in both races in 2020. He was fourth and fifth respectively in 2019. Blaney, has six Top-5s in his last nine tries on the Virginia paperclip overall. While he was 11th in both races last year, he did sweep both stages in the spring race.
He rolls off fourth on Sunday.