Ryan Blaney Comes Up Empty after Dominating Performance

Ryan Blaney, the driver of the #12 Menards/Peak Ford, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 60th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo – Jerry Markland/Getty Images

With 11 laps left in Sunday’s Daytona 500, Ryan Blaney appeared a likely winner. He was leading a single-file line of cars around the top lane of Daytona International Speedway when the race changed dramatically.

William Byron spun off turn four with a flat tire on lap 190, causing a caution that bunched the field for a double-file restart on lap 194. Blaney lost the lead, regained it, lost it again and ultimately sustained damaged during a 13-car melee on lap 199 when his No. 12 Team Penske Ford turned Kurt Busch’s No. 41.

“It was just hard racing,” said Blaney, who led 118 of 207 laps but had to settle for seventh at the finish. “You say it all day. I was trying to be aggressive blocking the lead and kind of fell back and got a good run back up towards it. Man, the 11 (Denny Hamlin) blocked the 41 (Busch), and the 41 kind of went high last minute, and I was on his left rear and I turned him.

“I feel bad about that. He kind of changed lanes last-minute and I couldn’t react quick enough. It stinks. We led a lot of laps. It just wasn’t meant to be. But it was a good showing. Hopefully, we go into Atlanta and have a decent run.”

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