Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge
Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS),
finished 13th in the One Main Financial 200 at Dover
International Speedway on Saturday afternoon. This was
the young driver’s first start at the high-banked, concrete
oval in NNS competition.
Blaney began the 200-lap race from the eighth position,
based on his lap of 23.309 seconds, or 154.447 miles per
hour, around the one-mile oval. Rain showers moved
through the Dover area overnight, and when the race
began it was evident that the track was different than
what the Discount Tire team experienced during the
Friday practice session. Blaney radioed to crew chief
Jeremy Bullins that his car was loose on corner entry and
tight in the center. As the run progressed, the handling
became loose all around the DIS oval. A competition
caution at lap 45 gave Bullins his first opportunity to
adjust the chassis. He elected to change four tires, while
adding a spring rubber into the left rear spring along
with a left-side wedge adjustment. Following the stop,
Blaney restarted the race from the 13th position at lap 51.
The action resumed with the handling still much the same as before the pit stop. Blaney radioed that he could not give much wheel input as the chassis was still too loose. However, at lap 84, he was able to click off several laps that were faster than those of the race leader as he held on to his position inside the top 15. Unfortunately the consistency was not there for him to make his way into the top-10. A lap 116 caution period gave Bullins the chance to again make substantial changes to the chassis of the Discount Tire Dodge. Air pressure and track bar adjustments were applied; another spring rubber was added to the left rear spring while also changing four tires. Blaney restarted the race from the 16th position at lap 124.
The adjustments proved to be too much as Blaney radioed that he was tight on corner exit. He was still able to log lap times that were as fast as the top-five cars in the running order, but once again the times were inconsistent. The team made its final pit stop at lap 178 under the yellow flag - a two tire stop that included track bar and air pressure adjustments. The two-tire strategy was an effort to pick up track position for the final run of the day. It worked as Blaney restarted the race from the 13th position after coming to pit road running in the 16th spot. He was able to hold that spot over the final 18 laps to secure a 13th-place finish.
Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish finished 18th in the One Main Financial 200 on Saturday afternoon.
Following Saturday’s result, Blaney and the No. 22 team remain seventh in the NNS owner point standings.
"The Discount Tire Dodge started off really loose and I think it caught everybody off-guard. We were loose the first and second run and then we just over-adjusted on the car a bit at the end. We just never could really get a good run going and get track position. I need to get better. Hopefully we can get some more races before the end of the season. It was a tough day but we'll be better."
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will next compete at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, October 12, in the Dollar General 300 with driver Brad Keselowski. Coverage will air live beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90