Blaney hoping fifth time’s the charm in quest to survive final NASCAR playoff elimination

In his fifth attempt to advance out of the Round of 8, Ryan Blaney finds himself in a unique position. Unlike previous years, he enters the elimination race at Martinsville Speedway as the driver being chased, holding a spot that four other drivers are vying for. Blaney currently sits 10 points above the cutline, with Tyler Reddick trailing behind him. Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., both from Joe Gibbs Racing, are 17 points out of a transfer spot. Chris Buescher is facing a likely must-win situation.

Blaney is optimistic about his chances at Martinsville Speedway, citing his six top-10 finishes in the last nine races there. However, he acknowledges that past success doesn’t guarantee future results, especially with different tire compounds and changing track conditions. While Blaney finished seventh at Martinsville Speedway in the spring, he recognizes the need to continually evolve and learn to remain competitive. He believes that being adaptable and ready to make quick decisions during the race is crucial.

Blaney has struggled in previous elimination races, often being below the cutline. However, this year has been different for him. Despite starting the round 10 points below the cutline, he made a significant comeback by scoring 53 of a potential 60 points at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finishing second, resulting in a 27-point swing. However, Blaney knows that everything can change in an instant, and he remains focused on executing a strong race.

Blaney’s Team Penske group is unsure whether to adopt an offense or defense mentality for the upcoming race. They understand that their strategy will heavily depend on the situation during the stages and any late cautions that may occur. While they have plans in place, Blaney acknowledges that these plans rarely come to fruition, and the ability to adapt quickly is crucial. He emphasizes the need to be open to both offensive and defensive strategies based on various factors such as cautions, pit cycles, and current position.


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