Ryan Blaney survives carnage to win at Kentucky

With a shove from Regan Smith, Ryan Blaney was able to pass Ty Dillon on a G-W-C restart and take the fourth win of his Xfinity career.

A wild night of racing at Kentucky Speedway ended with Team Penske in Victory Lane and 21-year-old Blaney scoring his second win of the season. Blaney led a race-high 81 laps.

The stop-and-go race was slowed by a number of incidents and lasted roughly three hours.

Daniel Suarez led the field to the green flag, but the first lap was led by Brian Scott. On the second lap, a four-car accident ensued in the first corner. Brennan Poole collided with Ben Rhodes and both got up into the wall. Ryan Reed, fresh off an ARCA win earlier today, was caught up in the accident and got hit by Blake Koch in the aftermath.

Erik Jones comes from the back to the front with ease

Drew Herring qualified the No. 54 and put it tenth on the starting grid, but Erik Jones was slated to race it after competing in the Truck race at New Hampshire and was forced to start from the rear of the field. It proved to be a non-issue for the young phenom, who passed seven cars on the opening lap and was battling amongst the frontrunners before the halfway point.

On Lap 27, the caution flew again when Michael Self spun nose-first into the inside wall on the backstretch.

Dillon took control of the race on the ensuing restart, but could not fend off a hard-charging Blaney. The driver of the No. 22 pulled out to a six-second lead before making a scheduled pit stop. While entering pit road though, the yellow flag was displayed and he lost valuable track position, having to drive straight through the pits.

Erik Jones was in a similar position, but completed his stop and was barely able to stay on the lead, putting him into P1 after the remainder of the lead lap cars pitted. NASCAR originally stated that Jones had fallen off the lead lap, but rescinded that call after a valid argument was made by the team.

Red flag at halfway

Scott was able to take the top spot away on the restart that followed just before another major accident. Poole spun once again and got hit by Harrison Rhodes, forcing an 18-minute red flag with fluid all over the race track.

The intensity ratcheted up as the field passed halfway and a brief rain shower halted the action. The restarts that followed were nothing short of hectic.

Tempers flare

With just over 70 laps to go, Blaney was able to reestablish his position at front of the field while Scott and Darrell Wallace Jr. made door-to-door contact behind him. Both driver fell back and Scott eventually pitted under green, citing a vibration.

This led to a post-race altercation which saw Scott reach his hands inside the window of Wallace's car before being pulled away by a NASCAR official. The two drivers locked horns in a shouting match soon after.

During another cycle of green flag pit stops with 35 laps remaining, the caution was needed once again as Ben Rhodes tried his best to knock down the wall after suffering a cut tire. Erik Jones was leading, but still needed to pit, giving the top spot back to Blaney.

On pit road, both Jones and his JGR teammate Matt Tifft opted for two tires and restarted second and third. Tifft impressed in his Xfinity debut, moving up to second on the restart before another accident put the field back behind the pace car. He ended the race in tenth position.

Eric McClure crashed while battling Martin Roy and despite walking away from the wreck, he appeared dazed and was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. 

Ryan Truex and Ross Chastain crashed on the following restart, setting up an eight-lap sprint to the finish. With Chastain's troubles, that meant that all three JD Motorsports entries were damaged during the race - and in separate accidents.

Fight to the finish

Blaney failed to get a strong restart and was passed by Dillon and Regan Smith. It looked as if the younger Dillon had the race in hand until a spin by Jeremy Clements set up a G-W-C. With a push from Smith, Blaney was able to get the advantage into the first corner and drive off with the victory.

Dillon, Smith, Elliott, and B. Jones rounded out the top five. Championship leader Chris Buescher finished seventh, allowing Dillon to cut the margin down to 19 points. Elliott is third, 25 points back leaving Kentucky.

There were a total of ten cautions for 55 laps. There were no issues in post-race inspection.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Article type Race report