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NASCAR Cup Charlotte

Last year's Coke 600 winner Ryan Blaney makes early exit

Ryan Blaney’s bid to repeat as Coca-Cola 600 winner came to an early and unusual end Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, BodyArmor Flash I.V. Ford Mustang

Blaney's victory in last season’s 600-mile race was what qualified him for the 2023 playoffs, where he went on to win two more races and captured his first series title.

While he has had a solid 2024 season, he entered this weekend’s race at Charlotte still looking for his first win of the year.

Unfortunately, it was not to be.

While a round of green flag pit stops was ongoing in Stage 2, Blaney hit the outside wall in Turn 3 – possibly from a tire going down – and did serious structural damage to the right-front of his No. 12 Penske Ford.

He was able to limp around to pit road, but his team was unable to extricate the tire from the car and ran out of time to repair the car. NASCAR eventually had to throw a caution so Blaney’s car could be towed back to the garage.

 

“We’ll have to look if I hit something or, I don’t know,” Blaney said of the incident. “I just went into Turn 3 getting up to speed and blew a tire and hit the fence. It’s an unfortunate end to our night. That sucks.

“We’re not even halfway and just wanting to work on your stuff all night. I thought we were getting it a little better here and there but won’t get a shot.”

Blaney had just completed his green flag stop prior to the incident on the track but he was unsure if that had anything to do with the outcome.

“I don’t know if I hit something or what, but it’s kind of odd. We’ll have to go back and take a look at it,” he said. “It stinks.

“That’s two unfortunate weekends in a row. I thought we at least had a shot to get better. I’d run close to the top 10 and maybe top five, but we’ll get through it.

“We’ve just got to hopefully put together a good race next week.”

Blaney now has two consecutive DNFs after getting involved in a three-car wreck early in the May 12 race at Darlington, S.C. He was credited with a 39th-place finish on Sunday night.

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