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For Blaney, near save becomes a total loss

May 09, 2014, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

Early exit comes in advance of 20-year-old's Cup debut

RELATED: Full race results | Series standings

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Ryan Blaney had it saved.

"Oh, yeah," the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title contender said outside the care center at Kansas Speedway. "We just barely tapped the outside wall with the back bumper, and we were going to be fine. I don't know how they wrecked behind us that hard to just destroy us. I was trying to get it rolling to miss them, and I saw them coming. But you just can't miss them. Just unfortunate."

To say the least, given that in the blink of an eye Blaney went from contending for the victory Friday night, to taking a mandatory ambulance ride while his No. 29 truck went to the garage area on a hook. Blaney had edged ahead of Joey Logano on Lap 85 when his vehicle went sideways, and the back end bumped the outside wall. But the Brad Keselowski Racing driver was able to minimize the damage -- until he was plowed into from behind in an accident that also took out one of the points leaders entering the night.

That was Johnny Sauter, who was tied with Timothy Peters atop the standings coming to Kansas, and banged off the No. 29 truck trying to squeeze by on the high side. Charging in immediately afterward was Tyler Young, making his 14th career Truck Series start, who hammered Blaney on the driver's side behind the cab area. Sauter finished 21st, one spot better than Blaney, who had entered the night third in the standings.

The crash helped reigning champion and race runner-up Matt Crafton move back into the lead, while Sauter fell to fifth in points and Blaney sixth.

"Had it saved," Blaney lamented after being checked and released from the care center. "Just barely tapped the outside wall. ... It's unfortunate -- we had a fast truck, we were up there in the points, and we were having a good night. A shame to throw away a bunch of points like that. But that's racing, and we'll go back to Charlotte next week and have a better run."

The first Truck Series event since Martinsville on March 30 saw plenty of cautions, but most of those involving vehicles near the back of the field. Soon after a restart, Blaney and Logano -- driving a second BKR truck for his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teammate Brad Keselowski -- were two-wide at the front, with Blaney edging ahead on the bottom for the lead. But Blaney's truck wobbled down the track, and when the left-side tires made contact with the apron, the vehicle swung around.

"Just racing hard with Joey," Blaney said. "I kept it out of the fence. I don't know how they got bottled up there behind me and destroyed our truck. It was just hard racing. (Logano) was just too far on my door. It just sucked me around, and that’s how I got on the apron. I had it saved, and they started wrecking behind us. It’s just unfortunate. We had a good truck. It's a shame we tore it up."

There were a total of nine cautions in the event, three short of the series record at the track. "You have so much aero grip, and not a lot of mechanical grip out here," Logano said. "So when you lose your aero with this hard tire … it's going to be a handful."

Blaney will make his Sprint Cup debut Saturday night at Kansas, in a third Team Penske car that will start 21st on the grid. But Friday night's wreck left the Truck Series driver looking for his first victory in his regular series since he prevailed at Pocono in August of last year.

"It's a huge bummer," Blaney said. "We had a really good truck. We were racing for the lead, we easily had a third-place truck, and were just getting better and better. It's a shame something like that happens."

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