Blaney Finishes Ninth After Hard Battle at Kentucky
September 23, 2012SPARTA, Ky. (September 22, 2012) – Ryan Blaney, driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished ninth in Saturday afternoon’s Kentucky 300 at Kentucky Speedway. The race marked the third time Blaney raced the No. 22 Penske Racing entry and he earned his third top-10 result with the team. The youngest Penske Racing driver made his eighth overall NNS start of the season and he earned his fourth series top-10 finish with the result.
Blaney qualified in the 20th position for the event after he posted a lap of 31.514 seconds, or 171.352 miles per hour, around the 1.5 mile speedway during Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session.
As the green flag flew to start the 200-lap race, Blaney began moving towards the top 15. He radioed to crew chief Jeremy Bullins that his car was loose in the center of the turns and he was struggling with the handling of the Discount Tire Dodge. During the competition caution on lap 30, Bullins called for two tires, fuel, track bar and air pressure adjustments to address Blaney’s loose-handling machine. He restarted the race in the seventh position.
After he narrowly avoided the spinning No. 43 car driven by Michael Annett, Blaney continued on his charge to the front of the field. While the No. 22 Dodge Challenger continued to fight a loose-handling condition, the crew noticed some debris covering the grill of the car which caused both the oil and water temperatures to rise above comfortable levels. As he was encouraged by Bullins to pull up to the rear bumper of the car in front of him, Blaney was able to remove some of the debris. The rest would have to wait until he could return to pit road. A caution flag at lap 88 provided the opportunity the Discount Tire team was looking for. Unfortunately, the team identified a small whole in the nose under the left front headlight that would also need to be address on the next pit stop.
Still dealing with the loose condition on the Dodge Challenger, Blaney pressed on and maintained his presence inside the top 10. After the Discount Tire crew fixed the damage to the nose on lap 146, the No. 22 Dodge Charger found its rhythm and Blaney was able to drive away from the others behind him. A late-race speeding penalty while exiting pit road forced Blaney to restart at the tail end of the field in the 11th position with only 34 laps remaining in the race. With three laps to go, Blaney battled hard with the No. 38 car driven by Brad Sweet for the ninth position and Blaney claimed the spot before taking the checkered flag.
Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish finished second in the Kentucky 300 on Saturday afternoon.
Following Saturday’s result, Blaney and the No. 22 team remain seventh in the NNS owner point standings.
“We struggled all race,” said Blaney. “We didn’t have initial speed like we needed to stay with those guys. We struggled bad from the start on tires. We were decent by the end of the run but couldn’t get going initially. We were way too lose all race (and) couldn’t do anything around other cars. The Discount Tire team did great today working on the car. We just have to keep working on it and get better.”
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will next compete at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, September 29, in the OneMain Financial 200 with Blaney returning behind the wheel. Coverage will begin live at 3:00 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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