Ryan Blaney truly put a whoopin’ on the field Saturday. Blaney acquired the lead with the help of his pit crew at the end of Stage No. 1. From there, Blaney was unchallenged, leading 136 laps en route to his sixth career victory in the XFINITY Series.
For Blaney, it was truly a joy to drive such a dominant car.
“It’s really hard to get a car like that and to be honest, we didn’t have it in the first run,” Blaney said after the race. “We made some great changes after the first Stage to get it better to where it needs to be. We actually got it better for the last run. I think this team does a great job with that of maybe not firing off the greatest but they know how to work on it and make it better throughout the race.”
William Byron started from the pole and ran for most of the first stage without any conflict. However, the race was a start-and-stop affair early on.
For Matt Tifft, Saturday’s race could have been catastrophic for his playoff chances. On lap 6, Brandon Jones spun in turn 4, stacking up those behind him. Tifft got slowed down, but Jeff Green locked up his tires and slid into the back of Tifft. Green was unable to regain control before hitting Brandon Jones’ No. 33 hard. David Starr also hit the inside wall trying to avoid the wreck.
Tifft was able to continue after repairs to the rear of his No. 19 Toyota. He would eventually finish in a strong sixth. Green, Starr and Brandon Jones were done for the day.
Only a few laps after the restart, Harrison Rhodes blew an engine to bring out another caution. Shortly after that, a stackup in turn 2 resulted in Chad Finchum hitting the wall and Reed Sorenson hitting Finchum. All three drivers would retire from the race due to their incidents.
Once he snagged the lead, Blaney was easily able to open up a gap on the pace. Meanwhile, Byron fell back into the clutches of his teammate Allgaier. Ultimately, Byron was able to keep second behind Blaney.
The final stage was the concrete Ryan Blaney needed to secure the victory in Dover. After finishing second in June at Dover, Blaney would lead the final 77 laps to improve that position by one.
A statement race for playoff contenders pleading their case for a spot in the next round saw Justin Allgaier finishing second after beating teammate Byron on the final restart. Byron would end up finishing third, followed by Daniel Hemric and Brennan Poole.
As the final 77 laps ran caution-free, tires became a concern. With less than 15 to go, Erik Jones was forced to pit with a tire going down. Tyler Reddick cut a right rear tire and brushed the wall as well.
Four drivers leave Dover in a hole heading to next weekend’s elimination race at Charlotte. The only issue with the elimination picture is that these four drivers have been on the outside looking in since the beginning. Brendan Gaughan, Michael Annett, Blake Koch, and Jeremy Clements being the four drivers who would be cut should the playoffs ended today.
With 60 points being the max you can gain, Clements, Koch and Annett are in must win situations. Gaughan mathematically can make it in on points but he’ll need help.
The XFINITY Series will be back in action next Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Race coverage of the Drive For The Cure 300 is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN.