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NASCAR Cup Homestead

Blaney "ran out of laps" to catch Bell for Homestead win

Ryan Blaney needed more time to catch Christopher Bell for the win Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but the result was still an important step in the right direction.

Blaney, who remains the only Team Penske driver still in the playoffs, showed he and a No. 12 Ford particularly strong on long runs in Sunday’s race.

He ended up leading the second-most laps in the race (53 of 267) and briefly took the lead on a restart with 23 laps to go but drafted back to third.

Blaney moved back into second behind Bell with six laps to go as his car picked up speed and he set his sights on a challenge for the lead. However, while he was gaining ground, he came up 1.185 seconds short at the finish.

“We were trying. We just needed laps. The long run car was really good. I just couldn’t fire-off for 10 laps or so,” Blaney explained. “I think the track cooling off helped those guys. I think we were better in the hotter, slicker conditions when fire-off speed didn’t matter as much, and it fell off quicker.

“It got a little cooler at the end, and we never really found the front-end speed and they did. We ran out of laps a little bit. I am proud of the effort. It was a really good day, we just got beat a little bit there at the end.”

Blaney’s runner-up finish, combined with playoff contenders Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. getting knocked out of the race early, left him fourth in the playoff standings.

With only next Sunday’s race at Martinsville remaining to qualify for the Championship 4, he holds a 10-point cushion over fifth place Tyler Reddick for the final spot.

After a pair of surprisingly strong performances in the last two races, Blaney said he enters the race at Martinsville with renewed confidence.

“I hope we can perform. We’ve had two good weeks in a row at Vegas and here. We have had solid weekends, so hopefully we can do it again next week,” he said.

“It is nice to come in here a decent chunk down and then go to Martinsville in the positive. We just have to perform. We have to run well.”

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