The teams of Ryan Blaney and Corey LaJoie have confirmed their drivers will be using backup cars in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
The No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang of Blaney was damaged in the first Bluegreen Vacations Duel race on Thursday. Blaney collided with Daniel Suarez on Lap 31, the bystander of Suarez taking evasive action to avoid Blaney’s teammate, Brad Keselowski.
The cars of Blaney and Suarez initially bounced off each other, which damaged the driver’s side of Blaney’s No. 12. Further damage to the nose of Blaney’s car was suffered when Suarez got turned into the outside wall.
Blaney had initially thought he “got lucky” by not totaling his car, but after the race, his team decided to pull out the backup. Blaney will line up in the 27th position for the Daytona 500, but will drop to the rear for the start of the race.
Joining Blaney at the back will be LaJoie after his No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang was damaged in the second Bluegreen Vacations Duel race. However, LaJoie was already going to start near the back in the Daytona 500 because of his misfortune in the Duel race.
LaJoie was trying to let JJ Yeley get in line when he was run into from behind by Timmy Hill. Making matters worse, LaJoie had been running one of the 2019 Stewart-Haas Racing cars that Go Fas Racing had received this year. LaJoie’s backup is one of the cars from the old Go Fas fleet.
The accident also played a role in who qualified for the Daytona 500. Yeley and Hill were racing for the final open spot, and the accident resulted in a DNF for Yeley. He will not compete in the Daytona 500 while Hill will.
“Obviously, our game plan didn’t go how we planned,” LaJoie told RACER. “We were overly conservative, and we didn’t put ourselves around good enough cars and missed the draft, and we had some questionable events happen on pit road, and we got into a bad situation with two guys that were trying to make the show and got in-between it with one guy trying to drive through me, and it ended up wrecking the guy he was racing against.
“So, we were the meat in the sandwich and unfortunately, as hard as Timmy Hill was smashing our back bumper off, we had to go to a backup car solely for that reason. That’s just what you expect when you race back there with them, so the guys will work hard getting the backup car ready to go, and we’ll let the thing rip in the 500.”