Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge
Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS),
finished 11th in the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas
Speedway on Saturday afternoon. The race featured 12
caution periods, including the final one at lap 199 to set
up a wild, green-white-checkered finish.
Blaney began the scheduled 200-lap race from the 27th
position, based on his lap of 30.736 seconds, or 175.690
miles per hour, around the 1.5-mile oval during the
Saturday morning qualifying session. Despite their
starting position, Blaney and crew chief Jeremy Bullins
were confident in their race set up and their confidence
proved to be well-founded at the drop of the green flag.
By lap 19, Blaney was running in the 19th position. He radioed to Bullins that he started off with a loose-handling condition, but it was improving with each lap. By the time the first caution of the day was displayed at lap14, Blaney had moved inside the top 15. Bullins would call his driver down pit road under the second caution flag of the day, at lap 33, for a two-tire pit stop. Blaney would restart the race in the 11th position at lap 38.
With a neutral-handling Discount Tire machine, Blaney began to work on getting to the front of the field. At lap 48, while running in the 13th position, he narrowly avoided the No. 11 of Brian Scott, who spun directly in front of the No. 22 Dodge. Following this near-miss, Blaney would find himself in the 11th position on the lap 54 restart. A subsequent caution flag at lap 57 gave Bullins an opportunity to make his first four-tire pit stop of the day. Blaney was beaten off pit road by several cars that elected to take only two-tires, or fuel-only, and he restarted 21st at lap 61.
By the halfway point of the race, Blaney had worked his way up to the fourth position due to a fast Discount Tire Dodge, along with good pit strategy. Bullins would make his first adjustment of the day under a lap 111 caution period as he elected to change all four Goodyear radials – including an air pressure adjustment – as Blaney noted that he was building toward a loose condition. The 18-year-old driver would restart the race from the third position at lap 117 following fast work in the pit by the Discount Tire pit crew.
Blaney was able to hold his own inside the top-five until hitting pit road for fuel-only stop at lap 139. Following the pit stop, the young driver stalled the Dodge as he was leaving his pit stall. As a result, he would restart the race from the 11th position at lap 142.
As the laps wound down, Blaney successfully made his way back to the seventh position before the final caution at lap 199. Many of the lead-lap cars were close on their fuel strategy, but the Discount Tire Dodge had plenty in the tank. This final caution set up a green-white-checkered finish at lap 205. As the green flag waved, the No. 33 of Paul Menard ran out of fuel, just to the inside of Blaney. The No. 43 of Michael Annett, who was immediately behind Menard moved to the right to go around the struggling machine, forcing Blaney into the outside wall. This resulted in the loss of several spots and an 11th-place finish.
Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish finished ninth in the Kansas Lottery 300 on Saturday afternoon.
Following Saturday’s result, Blaney and the No. 22 team remain seventh in the NNS owner point standings.
“We worked our way up to fourth and took fuel only on one of the stops, and that made my Discount Tire Dodge really loose,” said Blaney. “We could just never get it back. Track position is so important here. We had a better car than 11th.”
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will next compete at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, November 3, in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge with driver Ryan Blaney. 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