For a majority of Sunday’s First Data 500, Ryan Blaney looked to be best in class in his No. 12 Ford. The problem is, Martin Truex Jr. was in a class all by himself. Truex, led 464 of 500 laps in the opening race of the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs and stamped his name into the Championship 4 via his win this past Sunday at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway.
Blaney, would run second to Truex for most of the day. He would in fact finish third in both stages run on the .526-mile short oval, scoring 16 stage points overall by virtue of that. But, Blaney says his short run speed cost him a shot at a runner-up finish to Truex in the end. The Team Penske driver faded to fifth in the closing laps which is a solid day, but he’s still 15 points out of the final playoff spot that advances to the Championship 4 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“We were in the top five all day and I thought we had a good shot at second,” said Blaney. “We weren’t good on short runs. We were terrible for probably 30-40 laps and then we’d come alive and be great, but just didn’t have the speed.”
While a top five is great for him, those few positions he lost on short run speed could cost him. Luckily, he’s going to a track next weekend now in Texas to where he finished runner-up in last year’s playoff race and looked the strongest in the spring race before a mechanical failure ended his day early.