Restart contact cost Blaney a shot at Indy win

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Restart contact cost Blaney a shot at Indy win

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Restart contact cost Blaney a shot at Indy win

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Ryan Blaney might have been on older tires at the Indianapolis road course, but said that wasn’t why he finished 26th after lining up second for the final restart. Instead, the Team Penske driver was fuming after the race because of the contact in Turn 1 that turned his No. 12 Ford around and took him out of contention for the race win.

“That was a case of just getting wrecked; that’s all people do at the end of these things,” Blaney said. “[They] just dive in there and [expletive] wreck you. And I don’t know who shoved who [and] I don’t care.

“The tires didn’t matter at the end. We restarted [in the] top three both times and tires don’t really matter. It’s just a matter of getting through on the restart, but apparently that’s a hard thing to ask because people just run over each other.”

Blaney was lined up alongside race leader Tyler Reddick when the Verizon 200 went into overtime, but when the green flag flew, Blaney wound up three-wide going into Turn 1 with Daniel Suarez on his right and AJ Allmendinger to his left. Squeezed between the two, Blaney wound up turned around.

On the cool-down lap after the race, he spun Suarez in a show of displeasure with the Trackhouse Racing driver’s part in the incident.

Turn 1 was a trouble spot all afternoon. Drivers missed the corner when getting in too hot and, most notably, restarts turned eventful with the field fanning out three and four wide — or more — into the braking zone.

Given that, when Blaney was asked if he expected something to happen on the final restart, he said, “Always.”

The Penske driver knew restarts were also one of his best opportunities Sunday. After taking fuel-only with 53 laps to go, in which he pitted from the race lead, the time gained kept Blaney inside the top three as he came off pit road in front of Christopher Bell and behind Reddick. Although he briefly lost the position to Bell, on a restart with 18 laps to go, he shot through the middle to regain the spot and be back in contention.

Blaney made it cleanly through two more restarts before a third and final one sealed his fate. A win would have clinched a playoff spot for the No. 12, but instead they remain winless and sitting 15th on the playoff grid on points.

“I got lucky through the middle one time, and the middle never really opened on of the last couple restarts,” Blaney said. “I was protecting right, and I guess whoever was behind me didn’t care, or whoever was behind him didn’t care. I don’t know. They jump over the curb and wipe you out.

“I didn’t even have a shot at it. I didn’t have a shot to get to…[Reddick] and try to put the bumper to him or anything like that. I just get wiped out and I don’t know…I’m [expletive] off about it, and I have every [expletive] right to be.”

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