Ryan Blaney may have been on older tires on the Indianapolis road course, but said that wasn’t the reason he finished 26th after lining up second for the last restart. Instead, the Team Penske driver was upset after the race because of contact in Turn 1 that spun his No. 12 Ford and put him out of contention for the race win.
“That was a case of destruction; that’s all people do at the end of these things,” Blaney said. “Just dive in there and destroy you. And I don’t know who pushed I don’t care.
“The tires didn’t matter at the end. We restarted three times at the top and the tires didn’t matter. It was just a matter of getting through on the restart, but it seems hard to ask that because people just ran over each other.”
Blaney was lined up next to race leader Tyler Reddick when the Verizon 200 went into overtime, but when the green flag flew, Blaney went three-wide going into Turn 1 with Daniel Suarez to his right and AJ Allmendinger to his left. Caught between the two, Blaney turned around.
On the cool-down lap after the race, he spun Suarez in a display of disgust on the Trackhouse Racing driver’s part in the incident.
Turn 1 was a trouble spot all afternoon. Drivers overshot the corner entering the heat and, more importantly, the restarts were messy with the field drifting three and four wide — or more — into the braking zone.
Because of that, when Blaney was asked if he expected anything to happen in the final restart, he said, “Always.”
The Penske driver knew the restart was also one of his best chances on Sunday. After taking fuel-only with 53 laps remaining, where he pitted from the race lead, the time gained kept Blaney inside the top three as he exited pit road in front of Christopher Bell and behind Reddick. Although he briefly lost ground to Bell, on the restart with 18 laps remaining, he shot down the middle to regain the spot and return to contention.
Blaney made it clean through two more restarts before the third and final one sealed his fate. A win would clinch a playoff spot for the No. 12, but instead they remain winless and sit 15th on the playoff grid in points.
“I got lucky in the middle one time, and the middle didn’t really open up the last two 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 do not know. They jump to the curb and wipe you out.
“I didn’t even shoot anything. I have nowhere to go… and try to put the bumper on him or anything like that. I’m just going to be relieved and I don’t know…I’m off about it, and I have every right to be.”