NNS: Taking ‘Em to School; Blaney Bests Rowdy on Late-Race Restart for Bristol Nationwide Victory

Marshall Gabell Featured, NASCAR, Southeast 0 Comments

BRISTOL, TN – Race report by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Patrick Smith/Getty Images photo – Sometimes youth does trump experience.

Ryan Blaney took the youth factor all the way to Gatorade Victory Lane on Friday night, filling in for Brad Keselowski and capturing extra experience at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend as he schooled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kyle Busch on a late-race restart to earn his second-career win in the series.

With rainstorms approaching Blaney led a mere seven laps in the Food City 300 en route to his first win in the Nationwide Series since last season at Kentucky Speedway and his fourth career national series triumph (2 NCWTS, 2 NNS).

“It’s awesome to be here in Bristol in Victory Lane,” said Blaney. “Really I was worrying about salvaging second because Kyle was so good … But we were ready for our opportunity. Luckily we got it and we were able to take advantage of it.”

The win was also the fourth for the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford in the Nationwide Series this season – Bristol with Blaney and three times with Sprint Cup Series driver Keselowski.

Busch ultimately finished second but was frustrated following a controversial restart with six laps renaming that cost him the win after leading 161 laps.

“The leader’s at the biggest disadvantage (on restarts), I think,” Busch heatedly explained post-race. “Everybody always tries to hold back to the inside and they try to time a run so that when the leader goes, they have momentum on the leader. I’m trying to maintain regular speed and those guys are falling back, falling back. Then I try to fall back and they fall back more.”

“Now you’re underneath pit-road speed, so you try to maintain it and they got a run on your inside. The 22 (Blaney) was five miles per hour faster than me by the first double yellow (restart) stripe. I didn’t go because I didn’t want to go, but everybody behind me is trying to go because they’re following the 22. I’m trying to wait for him so I can go by the single red (restart) mark on the wall.”

The Joe Gibbs Racing veteran was also displeased with how NASCAR has enforced the restart rule in recent races.

“It’s stupid,” Busch explained. “NASCAR doesn’t police it (the restart rules). So everybody keeps jacking around on it, and one these days I’m going to lock all four (tires) down and stack the whole field up.”

Race winner Blaney disagreed with Busch’s statement and explained his perspective from the race-deciding restart.

“You’re always watching the leader and how he restarts,” Blaney expressed.”Kyle (Busch) was obviously the dominant car so it looked like he was going to be the (in the lead on) late (race restarts). He does that a lot. He likes to go fairly late. I learned that in the trucks. I was kind of prepared for that and my spotter Joey Meier did a great job conferring with that he was going to go late. So that really did prepare me for that a little better.”

Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott ended his up-and-down night in third position and proceeded to add his insight on the final restart.

“I saw Kyle (Busch) make a rare mistake on a restart,” Elliott explained. “It was just hard not to spin the tires and that’s always been the case here (at Bristol). But for whatever reason it was about 10 times worse tonight. I think when (Kyle) initially got on the gas that he got the tires spinning and Ryan (Blaney) didn’t spin his tires as bad. I didn’t see anything – no harm no foul in my opinion.”

Richard Childress Racing rookie Ty Dillon finished fourth and ended up in the middle of a dispute post-race with fifth place finisher and championship rival Regan Smith.

“I just felt for the entire race, there were three or four times tonight he ran me in the fence off of Turn 4,” Smith said of Dillon’s driving. “Everyone else out there seems to be able give room, and he doesn’t. That last one could have ended our night. I explained that to him. He said he got tight, and that seems to always be the excuse. When you get tight, you usually lift off the gas pedal. Next time I run over him I’m going to get tight, too.”

Dillon saw it from a different perspective – the typical Bristol mindset.

“We just got a little too tight,” Dillon said. “It’s Bristol, man. That’s why I was upset. We were going for all we can. Nobody got tore up. It’s racing. I had a lot of fun. … I’m not going to give anybody anything when I’m trying to run for the championship.”

Brendan Gaughan ended the night sixth, followed by Kevin Harvick, rookie Erik Jones, James Buescher and Mid-Ohio victor Chris Buescher.

There were 10 cautions at the concrete half-mile including an incident on Lap 283 that saw Blaney’s machine get loose and clip Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet. Larson was sent spinning and collected his rookie teammate Dylan Kwasniewski in the aftermath.

“Me and Ryan (Blaney) were just racing really hard for fourth in case the yellow came out,” a disappointed Larson said in the garage area. “He moved more into Turn 1 and I guess he got loose underneath me and drove us really hard into the wall. Ruined our day and ruined our teammate’s day.”

“I have to apologize to Kyle Larson,” Blaney added post-race. “I just got loose on the bottom and got into him. I’m really sorry about that. I was trying to pull a slider and got really loose, so sorry about that.”

Elliott leaves Thunder Valley leading the championship standings by 13 markers over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith with 10 races to go in the battle to crown a champion. Ty Dillon now sits in third place, 30 points in arrears.

Elliott Sadler’s points chase took a disastrous turn on lap 185 when he collided with Timmy Hill and suffered right-front damage, falling a lap down in the fight to make repairs. Sadler, who began the night third in points, 16 behind Elliott, ended up hitting the wall twice before race’s end. He finished the night in 29th place.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series now heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway next Saturday for the running of the Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 on Saturday. TV coverage will be on ESPN2, with radio coverage via PRN Radio and SIRIUSXM.

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