Blaney Picks Up Second-Consecutive Top-10 at Richmond
September 8, 2012RICHMOND, Va. (September 7, 2012) – Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 22 Snap-on Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished ninth in the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) on Friday night. This was the second of three scheduled starts in the No. 22 Dodge for the young driver.
Blaney began the 250-lap race from the 27th position based on his lap of 22.570 seconds, or 119.628 miles per hour, around the .75-mile oval. As the green flag waved, Blaney began to slice his way through the field on the strength of a Snap-on machine that was strong on corner exit. As the run progressed, he was able to turn lap times comparable to those of the race leader, despite a handling condition that built tighter in the center of the corners. The first caution flag of the day, at lap 37, found Blaney running in the 17th position. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called his driver down pit road for a two-tire stop, including track bar and air pressure adjustments, to pick up track position for his young driver. When the race resumed at lap 45, Blaney had improved to the fifth position.
While the competitors around him had four fresh tires, Blaney was able to hold his own inside the top five for the initial part of the run. However, as the left-side tires began to wear, the Snap-on Dodge tightened up in the center of the corner, while compounding it with a loose-handling condition on exit. As a result, Blaney fell back to the 12th position before another caution flag at lap 110 gave Bullins another opportunity to work on the car. This stop included a four-tire change with an air pressure adjustment. Blaney restarted the race from the 12th position at lap 118.
As the race resumed, Blaney was forced high on the racetrack and out of the groove at lap 120, resulting in the loss of four spots. As he regrouped, he began to work his way back towards the top 10 by turning consistent lap times around the RIR oval. He radioed that the exit of the corner had improved, but he was still too tight in the center. Bullins again brought him down pit road under the yellow flag, this time at lap 146, for another pit stop that consisted of a four-tire change with air pressure and wedge adjustments. Blaney restarted just outside the top 10, in the 13th position, at lap 151.
Over the final 100 laps, Blaney would battle to grab his second top-10 finish at RIR. This included hard-fought racing with the No. 20 of Darrell Wallace Jr as the two made contact late in the race. However, the tight-handling condition that plagued the Snap-on Dodge team kept Blaney from getting to the front of the field as he crossed the finish line in the ninth position.
Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish finished 30th in the Virginia 529 College Savings 200 on Friday night.
Following Friday night’s result, Blaney and the No. 22 team moved are ranked seventh in the NNS owner point standings.
“I think we made pretty big gains with the Snap-on Dodge considering where we started out in practice today. We really struggled in practice and we didn’t qualify much better. We definitely had to make up ground there. Jeremy made a pretty good call there taking two tires the first stop and got us some track position and we were kind of able to hold on from there. All in all, it was a decent night.”
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will next compete at Chicagoland Speedway, with driver Brad Keselowski, on Saturday, September 15, in the Dollar General 300 powered by Coca-Cola. Coverage will air live beginning at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90.
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