RELATED: Race results
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For the second week in a row, it looked like the race polesitter would find Victory Lane and earn his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series triumph.
A string of cautions and restarts in the Go Bowling 400’s waning laps, however, quickly changed the tune for fourth-place finisher Ryan Blaney and his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing team Saturday evening at Kansas Speedway.
“I felt that we had a great short-run car tonight and I thought that was going to play right into our hands at the end,” the 23-year-old driver said following the race.
Blaney, who topped the leaderboard for 83 circuits and won Stage 2, was unable to keep pace with eventual race winner Martin Truex Jr. and the blistering speeds his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota was setting, particularly on a trio of late-race restarts. The No. 2 of Brad Keselowski and the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick were able to catch up as well, claiming second and third, respectively.
“The 78 got us on that (last) restart somehow. I don’t know. I was super loose there on the last restarts and the 78 got me spinning my tires a little bit,” Blaney said, referencing the restarts on Laps 249, 263 and 266.
“It kind of stinks. I think that it says a lot about this team to go out and lead some laps and go have a shot and win races.”
The North Carolina native — who earned his first premier series pole Friday night — is no stranger to post-race disappointment and being frustratingly close to that elusive first career win. He left the April Texas race with 148 laps led and two stage wins, but only a 12th-place finish to show for it. And the three races that followed produced no finishes better than 33rd — Bristol (33rd), Richmond (36th) and Talladega (39th).
“The last three races have been really, really bad, and it’s just an extra kind of slap to the face that we’ve had really fast cars in all those races we had troubles in,” he said. “We should have had top 10s in all of them.”
With his home track Charlotte Motor Speedway next up on the Monster Energy Series agenda, Blaney hopes his team can bounce back and piggyback on the momentum developed during the Kansas weekend.
“(I) look at the gains we made all weekend and really being fast all weekend, that puts us back to where we need to be for sure,” he said.
He’s now gained two spots in standings, sitting just outside the top 10, in 11th.
An excellent spot to be in while he waits his turn to land in Victory Lane.