For most of Sunday (Apr. 15), the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway was Ryan Blaney’s to lose.
Unfortunately for him, that’s exactly what happened.
In a race delayed several times for rain, Blaney’s car was a fixture up front for most of stage one. He led 100 of the first 117 laps and was just eight laps away from a stage win when chaos broke out.
Blaney’s Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski had begun to put pressure on for the top spot. That’s when he got a fender underneath of the No. 12, forcing Blaney high.
Up ahead of the leading duo, Chris Buescher and Trevor Bayne were battling and trying to stay ahead of the leader. Buescher got a strong run up high and Bayne came up into him, causing both cars to wreck. A helpless Jamie McMurray also slammed into the two as the three cars blocked the upper groove of the track.
“I didn’t really see much. By the time I got away from the car right in front of me, they were already turned right up the racetrack. I was already going to the top,” Blaney said. “I kind of saw them spinning low, and I thought the top was going to be OK, but they slid back up and they got us.”
Left with nowhere to go, Blaney got collected into the pileup. The wreck knocked him out of the race and also ended his shot at a second career win.
“It’s obviously frustrating when lapped cars wreck and take the leader out,” Blaney said. “That’s unfortunate. They weren’t lapped down cars yet, I guess.”
Had Blaney won, he would have trophies from Bristol for all three national series. The driver previously won there in NASCAR’s XFINITY and Camping World Truck divisions.
“That stinks,” Blaney said. “I thought we had a good car and [there’s] nothing to show for it.”