Ryan Blaney was in contention to become the first repeat winner of the NASCAR Cup Series season before a costly mistake on his final pit stop at Martinsville Speedway.
Blaney won both stages of the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 and led 157 of 500 laps. Blaney’s No. 12 Ford and Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota spent much of the day pacing the field.
But when Blaney ran over the air hose while leaving his pit stall under the lap 453 caution, he was forced to restart at the rear of the field. He finished 11th.
“We had a really good Menards/Pennzoil Ford Mustang tonight,” Blaney said. “On the long runs, we were really good. Denny [Hamlin] was good on short runs. I was just kind of trying to hold off the guys behind me until we got 20 or so laps in, and then I could kind of start creeping forward. But we just got that pit road penalty at the end.
“It’s just a mistake and something that should be avoided. We’ve had an issue the last three times we’ve been here with a car to win, so that’s frustrating, but I’m real proud of the effort. I just wish we could close one out.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 11, 2021
Sunday was the most laps that Blaney has led in a single Martinsville race – the previous being 145 in the spring of 2018. However, the finish ended Blaney’s streak of consecutive top-five finishes at four. Entering the weekend, Blaney had been the runner-up in the last two Martinsville events.