Early crash at Daytona collects Ryan Blaney, shakes up playoff picture

A multi-car crash at Lap 31 of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race collected Ryan Blaney, altering his odds of making the playoffs.

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The early-race incident began at the exit of Turn 2, where leader Erik Jones was pushed sideways on the inside line by Denny Hamlin. Hamlin checked up and was turned by Blaney from behind. Blaney veered right to avoid the spinning car of Christopher Bell but couldn’t miss the No. 20 Toyota, getting hit by Bell and making significant right-front contact with the outside SAFER barrier.

Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski were also included.

Ultimately, Blaney wheeled his beaten and battered No. 12 Ford to a 15th-place finish, six laps down, and scored just enough points to advance into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. With Austin Dillon scoring the win, only one spot was left based on points. Blaney bested Truex by three markers at the checkered flag despite Truex’s eighth-place run.

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Blaney entered the Coke Zero Sugar 400 as the 15th seed in the playoff standings, maintaining a 25-point advantage over Martin Truex Jr. Truex flat-spotted his tires attempting to avoid the Lap 31 incident but received no further damage. Truex finished fifth in Stage 1 and ninth in Stage 2, collecting a total of 15 stage points.

Truex was slowed, however, by a Lap 102 crash that left his No. 19 Toyota with considerable damage, mainly to the left rear as well as his right-front fender. Truex was one of only 10 drivers on the lead lap at race’s end but ultimately failed to score enough points to advance into the postseason.