Ryan Blaney called his second-place finish at Kentucky Speedway a positive for his Team Penske group.
But in the next breath, Blaney admitted: “I hate it.”
Blaney knew that Martin Truex Jr.’s car took a few laps to settle in after restarts and he was hoping to capitalize on it. But Truex was able to fire off well enough that he took the lead from Kurt Busch just nine laps after the race’s final restart, and while Blaney followed him past Busch, he never closed on Truex to challenge for the win.
“I wouldn’t really say frustration,” Blaney said of the night. “I’m bummed that we didn’t win the race because we were so close to doing it and we had a shot. Whenever in defeat, you’ve got to look at positives whether you run second or you crash — you’ve got to look at the positives on the weekend and figure out where you were the best and where you need to get better. We’ll take both of those away from it. We’ll appreciate what we’ve done on our mile‑and‑a‑half program of we’ve gotten it a lot better, but it’s not good enough.
“So yeah, there are positives and then things we can work on, as well. I wouldn’t say we’re frustrated or defeated. I mean, I might be a little down just because I wanted to win the race, but you go back and you realize that you’ve made gains and you’ve just got to keep making those.”
While Blaney said the gains were not good enough, they were clear.
Off a stretch of three races where he finished 18th or worse, Saturday night was Blaney’s first top-10 finish since his eighth-place effort in Michigan last month. It was also just the third top-10 finish for him on a 1.5-mile track this season out of the seven races run.
Behind Blaney, teammate Brad Keselowski finished third, and Joey Logano wound up 10th. A night that Blaney hopes is a sign the organization is closing the gap to its competitors.
“That’s really all you can hope for, but you never know,” Blaney said. “The 78 [Truex], he kind of dominated the night. They had a really great race car, and they did a good job. They’ve done that all year.
“We’ve just got to keep working hard like we all have been at Team Penske and just keep trying to close that gap until we dominate races and we lead a bunch of laps. Hopefully, we get there soon.”