Ryan Blaney felt his No. 12 Team Penske team had reason to hold their heads high Sunday afternoon despite winding up with a damaged race car and disappointing finish.
Leading the way late at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a caution with six laps to got put Blaney and company in a tough position regarding pit strategy. The team opted to give up their track position to come down pit road, and Blaney sped away behind four other drivers.
Meanwhile, seven other teams went for the track position and stayed out.
Restarting 12th and in traffic, Blaney was making little headway when he was collected in a mess off Turn 4. A collision between Erik Jones and William Byron sent them both up the track and into Blaney, who was running the far outside lane.
When the caution came out for additional issues through the field, Blaney was scored in the 11th position.
“It was just a crappy situation,” said Blaney. “We fight our butts off to get the lead there from third and get it. I had a good shot at holding the 88 [Alex Bowman] off. I thought we could have once we got in clean air; I thought our car was pretty decent. The caution came out, and we pitted, some guys didn’t, some guys took two, and we just end up getting absolutely destroyed with people not knowing how many cars were to the outside of them.”
Off a restart with 41 laps to go, Blaney settled into the third position. He moved to second with 17 laps to go and took the lead from his teammate and eventual winner Joey Logano with 13 laps to go.
Bowman was also quickly making his way to the front and was less than a second behind Blaney when the caution came out. Bowman was among those who pitted with Blaney and also finished outside the top 10.
“It’s easy to look back on it and say we should have stayed out,” continued Blaney. “That’s a tough call for (crew chief) Todd Gordon in his position, but I’ve got to thank him for giving me a really good car. We were great on long runs. We were so good on long runs, and that’s something to hold our heads up high about; it just stinks about the finish.”
Blaney led five times for 19 laps in the Pennzoil 400.