It wasn’t the start, but the restart that gave Ryan Blaney his best Nationwide Series finish of the season.
On a restart with six of 300 laps remaining, Blaney powered past leader Kyle Busch, who appeared to spin his rear wheels, and held off the all-time series wins leader for the victory in Friday night’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The win is Blaney’s second in the series and first of the season. He competes fulltime in the NASCAR Truck Series with Brad Keselowski Racing and is running a partial Nationwide schedule with Team Penske.
“I’ve been coming here for 10 years with my dad and always thought it was one of the coolest race tracks,” said Blaney, the 20-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney.
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“Kyle didn’t go on that last restart. He said his tires were jacked up, but we got to the second (yellow) line and I went – you can go and luckily we were able to hold him off there.”
The seven laps Blaney led at the finish were the only ones he led the entire race.
“I was just driving my guts out there trying to stay ahead of (Busch),” Blaney said. “I know he was, too.”
Busch, who led a race-high 161 laps, was not happy with how the final restart unfolded.
“I can’t go when my rear tires are off the ground,” Busch said. “The leader is at the biggest disadvantage on restarts. I know when I want to go but everybody else is pushing me.”
Blaney was able to put significant distance between himself and Busch on the restart, leaving little time for Busch catch back up.
“It’s a single lane race track. You can’t (expletive) pass here,” Busch said. “It’s pathetic.”
Series points leader Chase Elliott finished third and holds a 13-point lead over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith, who finished fifth, in the series standings. Ty Dillon finished fourth.
The race was slowed 10 times by caution covering 57 laps and started after more than an hour delay for a rain shower. There were nine lead changes among five drivers.