Ryan Blaney started the Inaugural Indy 250 from the 11th position. He drove the Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet in the top-20 for the majority of the race but had to pit twice for overheating from grass on the grill. The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) rookie finished in 27th place, one lap down in his track debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
Blaney started from the 11th position in row six in his IMS debut. He raced in the top-15 when he radioed to the crew that the No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet was a seven out of 10 tight. NASCAR Officials called a competition caution on lap 17. Crew Chief Brad Parrott called him down pit road for his first scheduled pit stop. The SealWrap crew changed four tires and made an air pressure and rubber adjustment.
The No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet restarted in the 19th spot on lap 22. Blaney drove into the 16th position by lap 29 and told the crew that the car was handling a little better but not much better. As he wheeled into 11th place, the No. 7 and 38 had an accident in turn two and brought out the caution on lap 40. Parrott elected to pit for two right-side tires and an air pressure and trackbar adjustment. The team restarted in the 15th spot on lap 48.
Grass Overheats Ryan Blaney’s Debut at Indianapolis
The No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet finished 27th
Blaney continued racing in the top-15 but radioed that he was getting a vibration in the corners. NASCAR Officials called a caution on lap 64 for debris on the racetrack with the SealWrap Chevrolet in the 14th position. Blaney told Parrott that the car was now a five out of 10 tight, and Parrott called for a four-tire stop and a rubber and trackbar adjustment.
The field restarted on lap 68 with Blaney in the 16th position. During the lap, a car drove into the grass in turn two and kicked grass onto the grill of the No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet. Blaney told the crew his car was overheating and came down pit road for the crew to clean off his grill. He returned to the track on lap 71 in the 29th position on the tail end of the lead lap. Four laps later, the yellow flag flew for a three-car incident in turn four just as the leader was approaching the SealWrap Chevrolet.
Blaney radioed that the car’s handling did not improve on the last run, so Parrott called for a four-tire pit stop with an air pressure and trackbar adjustment. The No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet restarted in the 20th spot on lap 79. One lap later, the No. 12 and No. 54 Chevrolet had an accident in turn two and brought out the caution. The team stayed out, and Blaney restarted in 18th place.
He continued racing in the top-20 when another car drove into the grass. Blaney radioed that the SealWrap Chevrolet was over heating again on lap 85. He pit on lap 86 and returned to the track in the 28th position, one lap down. The field raced to lap 100 under green flag conditions, and Blaney moved up to the 27th position for the checkered flag.
“It was a frustrating day,” explained Blaney. “We struggled at the beginning of the race, but the handling got better as the guys worked on some changes. Unfortunately, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time twice and had to pit for overheating from grass on the grill. I feel like I learned a lot this weekend, and being the first Nationwide car on track at Indy was really cool. It’s such a fast track and a lot of fun to race on.”
Blaney will return to NNS racing in his debut in the No. 22 machine for Penske Racing next weekend at Iowa Speedway. He will be back in the No. 36 SealWrap Chevrolet August 24 for the NNS race at Bristol Motor Speedway. TBR will field John Blankenship in his NNS debut next weekend at Iowa Speedway.