LAS VEGAS — With 40 laps to go, things seemed pretty promising for Ryan Blaney at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He ran second, primed for a strong finish and a great points day to push him well above the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff cutline.
Instead, a crash exiting Turn 2 on Lap 228 derailed Blaney’s afternoon, turning a potential win into a 28th-place finish. He lost handling in the corner and hit the outside wall before a long spin into the inside wall.
“It was nice that we were fast today,” Blaney told NBC. “It’s unfortunate the way it ended … Got loose. Hit the fence. That’s about all.”
Blaney’s team repaired the damage and got him back on the track, seven laps down, to salvage any points possible. He managed to edge out teammate Austin Cindric, who suffered damage and fell several laps down after hitting the wall late
.”It stinks not capitalizing [Sunday] making a driver error,” Blaney said.
Before the crash, Blaney had a solid day going. He finished fifth in Stage 1 before winning Stage 2 to secure a total of 16 stage points and one Playoff point. Blaney had one of the quickest cars throughout the race up until the crash.
Blaney now has his back against the wall for the final two races in the Round of 8. A win is the most efficient way to lock himself into the Championship 4, but he could also clinch a spot on points.
Ahead of Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Blaney is seventh in points and trails Hamlin by 11 points for the final Playoff spot. Logano won his way into the Championship 4 at Las Vegas on Sunday, meaning three spots remain.
In seven Cup starts at Homestead, Blaney has a top five in 2020 and an average finish of 18.9.
Though he hasn’t won there before, he’s encouraged after a test in September and strong speeds at intermediates throughout the season.
“Thought we had a decent test at Miami a couple of weeks ago,” Blaney said. “Hope this speed carries over… Got two more [races this round]. Try and make it up and see what we can do.”
Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.