Ryan Blaney at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (HHP/Tim Parks photo)

Despite Vegas DQ Muddle, Blaney Is Full Speed Ahead

The first text Ryan Blaney received when he stepped off the plane on his return home from the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was a message notifying him he had been disqualified.

During post-race inspection, NASCAR determined that the left-front shock on the No. 12 Team Penske entry did not meet the overall specified length.

As a result, Blaney was credited with last-place in the 36-car field, despite finishing sixth.

With Blaney being a NASCAR Cup Series playoff contender in the Round of 8, the loss of points threw the team into a precarious position, as they were demoted to last on the playoff grid with a 56-point deficit to the cutline.

“It was like, ‘OK, we have to win one of the next two weeks,’” Blaney said.

However, on Monday morning, the Team Penske crew held a meeting internally to discuss the penalty before heading to NASCAR for further discussions.

“I appreciate NASCAR for being receptive to it and talking with us Monday and meeting with the parts at their R&D Center and understanding what the disconnect was between pre-race and post-race. That is a sealed part,” Blaney explained.

“Elton Sawyer and Brad Moran were really great to us at being understanding and understanding that there was an issue there with the process and they were able to fix it.”

On Monday evening, NASCAR rescinded the disqualification, restoring his sixth-place finish and the eight stage points Blaney earned at the 1.5-mile track. His points deficit in the playoffs was reduced from 56 to 17 points.

“When it got rescinded on Monday night, it was just about that it would still be hard to make it but it isn’t a must-win now. So it gives you a little more hope. I wasn’t like distraught or anything. That was the spot we were in and had a job to do, but now it is just a change a little bit,” Blaney said.

And that’s precisely what Blaney is focused on this Sunday during the 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1 at Homestead-Miami Speedway — doing his job. Despite being dealt back his points, Blaney is still ranked seventh in the Round of 8, in danger of missing his first career appearance in the Championship 4.

While it’s possible for the No. 12 to point his way into the Nov. 5 finale at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway, it’s not the likeliest outcome.

“You can do it on points but it is going to be hard. I still think you probably have to win one of these things unless some guys have problems, you just never know,” Blaney said. “Here you can have problems. Running the wall, you can break some stuff pretty easy. You just go race, and do the best you can.”