Ryan Blaney is in a hole to start the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs following an inspection infraction at Darlington Raceway.
Team Penske has lost 10 driver and owner points from Blaney’s No. 12 team for improperly mounted ballast on its Ford Mustang in pre-race inspection. Blaney also loses his starting position, which was seventh, for the Southern 500 and will start from the rear of the field (6 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Crew chief Todd Gordon has also been ejected from the event.
“Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford Mustang was penalized for Improperly Mounted Ballast during inspection this afternoon prior to the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington,” the team said in a statement to the media. “A 5lb bag of lead that is typically used during setup at the shop to simulate fluid weights prior to the race engine being installed was accidentally left in the car. The team accepts the penalty and Travis Geisler will serve as the crew chief for the No. 12 team this evening.”
Before the penalty, Blaney was seeded seventh on the playoff grid with 2,013 points. He is now tied with Kyle Busch at 2,003 points at 13th on the grid.
“Everyone is going be strong in the playoffs, so you really have to be on top of your game, but I like our momentum,” said Blaney earlier this week. “It’s just a matter of putting races together and take them one race at a time. I think this team can do that, but it’s going to be important for us to win in the rounds. That’s what it’s going to take for us, I feel, to advance or have really, really good point days. But I feel really good about this team.
“Todd Gordon and I worked well together this year, it’s just a matter of keep building with each other and not making any mistakes, not having any blowups in the rounds. You can’t really have a mulligan. I’m not saying we’re in the worst position — there are guys in worse positions than us — but we’re not in the best position. So, we just have to have a solid 10 races.”