Ryan Blaney’s high hopes for Bristol Motor Speedway ended in a crash near the end of Sunday’s first stage in the Food City 500.
Blaney led twice for 100 laps, but his Team Penske No. 12 Ford was collected when Trevor Bayne and Chris Buescher tangled on the backstretch, clogging the track on Lap 117 of a scheduled 500. Harrison Rhodes and Jamie McMurray also piled in, but Blaney’s front-running car sustained race-ending front-end damage.
“It’s obviously frustrating when lapped cars wreck and take the leader out. That’s unfortunate,” Blaney said after being checked out at the infield care center. “They weren’t lap-down cars yet, I guess, but I don’t know. I didn’t really see much. By the time I got away from the car right in front of me they were already turned right up the race track and I was already going to the top.
“I kind of saw them spinning low and I thought that top was gonna be OK and then they slid back up and got us. That stinks. I thought we had a good car and nothing to show for it.”
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Blaney was in position to clinch his third stage win of the season, but teammate Brad Keselowski took over the top spot and held on for his second stage victory of 2018.
Bayne continued after the contact, but Buescher and Rhodes were sidelined for the rest of the day.
“Unfortunately, I hate that it did collect Blaney and everybody involved,” Buescher said. “I hate that we all got a bunch of torn-up race cars. All three or four of us were trying to get clear of one car for a long time and it got very frustrating. The top (groove) was coming in. It was exciting, I think it’s going to be a great race to the end. I’m just pissed off that we are not participating anymore.”
The clean-up forced the second red flag of the cool, damp day at the .533-mile track. The red flag period lasted six minutes.