Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team were able to bounce back from early misfortune in Sunday’s playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway and come home with an 11th-place finish that keeps them in the top 10 in points heading into the second playoff race at New Hampshire next Sunday.
Blaney started 12th at Chicagoland but dropped back early and fell off the lead lap due to contact with another car.
He remained off the lead lap through the first two stages and got his break of the day when the caution flag flew on Lap 169 for a spin by Jamie McMurray while Blaney was in the free pass position.
From there on to the finish of the 267-lap race it was a matter of first passing the lapped cars ahead of him on the next restart then overtaking those ahead of him on the lead lap. He wound up 11th, which was 10th among the playoff contenders.
He did fall one spot in the standings and heads to New Hampshire 68 points out of the lead and eight points ahead of 13th-place Kurt Busch. The bottom four drivers in the playoff standings will be eliminated after two more races.
Blaney pointed out in his post-race comments that the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team wasn’t the only playoff contender to have an up-and-down day at Chicagoland.
“We started off not great, got into it with a lapped car,” he said. “That put us behind and got us a lap down.
“We spent a long time trying to get a lap back and finally did and were able to go racing. We went the wrong way on our last adjustment and that hurt us unfortunately.”
“We can’t hang our heads about that. A lot of other cars had problems today. It stinks we didn’t get any stage points, but maybe next week.”
The championship hunt continues on Sunday with a 300-miler at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.