MADISON, Ill. – Ryan Blaney contended for a second straight win before ultimately finishing sixth in Sunday’s race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway following his Coca-Cola 600 win on Monday evening.
It is a good time to be a Blaney fan in the NASCAR world as the 29-year-old Hartford Township, Ohio native seems to have found a substantial amount of momentum following a 59-race winless streak.
Blaney started the Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter from the second position, narrowly missing the pole position to Kyle Busch by 0.008 seconds. Blaney did not lose much speed throughout Sunday’s race.
In fact, Blaney led a total of 83 laps throughout the race and logged a top 10 finish in every stage, including a second place Stage 1 finish, a Stage 2 win preceding his sixth place finish.
Following the somewhat lengthy race, Blaney was pleased with his day overall but was also reflective about what led to his No. 12 Menards Ford Mustang winding up in sixth place after running up front for a sizeable number of laps.
“Yeah, we ran pretty good today,” Blaney said. “Won the second stage which was good, second in the first stage. Just kind of lost track position, lost the lead. Through a couple of restarts, we could just never really get it back.”
The Team Penske driver also mentioned the drivers whom he spent the majority of the race around.
“I thought the No. 8 (Busch), No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) and I were similar,” he said. “It was just a matter of who was out front. I just got a bad restart at the end and fell to sixth. It was a good points day too, and we’ll keep going.”
A good points day is objectively an understatement by Blaney because Sunday’s race left him as the new regular season points leader, 13 points ahead of William Byron, who ranks in second place. Previously, Blaney was in second place, a position ahead of Byron.
Although Blaney did not take a second consecutive checkered flag at World Wide Technology Raceway, this has the potential to be an incredible turning point for him after a long, nearly two year long winless streak.
Blaney may have won his last points paying race at Daytona in August of 2021. However, he has not lacked speed during the time between wins. During that span, it seemed luck was not on his side for one reason or another.
Statistically, Blaney had plenty of speed throughout the 2022 season, and has shown the same so far this season. In the races completed so far in the 2023 season, Blaney has four top five finishes along with nine top 10 finishes.
It is safe to say that a lot of eyes will be on Blaney during the next race at Sonoma Raceway to see if he can continue his recent momentum and contend for another win.