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Ryan Blaney Vowed Retribution as He Failed to Find a Helping Hand in the Daytona 500

Published 02/22/2024, 3:56 PM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Reigning NASCAR champion Ryan Blaney, fresh off his 2023 victory, entered the Daytona 500 with a fire in his eyes and the Harley J. Earl Trophy in his sights. But fate, or perhaps a series of “awful pushes” as Blaney himself calls them, had other plans. A brutal qualifying crash was just the opening act in the Daytona drama that ended with Blaney’s car in flames and his championship dreams extinguished in a 23-car inferno. Now, with a sore wrist and a burning desire for payback, the Team Penske star vows to rise from the ashes.

The first hit he experienced, a ’55-G’ impact during the Thursday Duels, set the tone for what would become a tumultuous weekend. His Daytona journey took another hit during the Daytona 500, where he found himself caught in a massive wreck with just 8 laps to go.

Daytona Double Trouble for Stage 2 Winner, Ryan Blaney

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Prior to the 2024 season opener, Blaney had endured two major crashes in eight months at the historic ‘World Center of Racing’. Undeterred, he rebuilt and started this year’s 500 strong, leading for 12 laps and even winning stage 2. However, just as hope flickered for an inaugural Daytona victory, a colossal crash on Lap 192, the “Big One,” involving almost two dozen cars, sealed his fate. A series of collisions, initiated by a nudge between Alex Bowman and eventual winner William Byron, cascaded into a chain reaction including several big names, with Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Blaney among those unable to finish the race. This marked the third consecutive DNF for the driver of the #12 Ford Mustang Dark Horse.

Adding insult to injury, Blaney’s frustration was inherently visible during the race. He vented to his crew about a lack of draft help, stating, “They’re f**king pulling away from me,” to which his spotter of the #12 team, Tim Fedewa said, “If they all fan out they’re risking stage points.”

This exchange of sentiments indicated Blaney’s growing pains over receiving no support in his recent showings at Daytona. In a resounding radio reply to Fedewa, Blaney declared, “Okay, they get no help from me then later in the race.” This incident highlighted the competitive nature of NASCAR superspeedways and the fine line between collaborative ‘bump-drafts’ and the bright lights of personal glory.

Furthermore, Blaney was vocal in expressing his frustrations post-race, stating, “Sh*tty pushes by people three times in a row at Daytona, and I have a wrecked race car.” The defending champion’s disappointment was palpable as he vowed retribution for the unfortunate incidents.

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Looking Ahead: Redemption at Atlanta?

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Amidst the chaos, Blaney also sustained minor injuries, including a tweaked right wrist, during the 23-car crash in the Daytona 500. Despite the discomfort, Blaney persevered, thankful that he escaped Daytona with just soreness. Reflecting on the incident, Blaney, as per AP, mentioned, “It bent it pretty weird… It’s all good.”

His determination and resilience were evident throughout the race, where he showcased his skills despite the challenges. Starting the season opener race in 32nd place, Blaney displayed remarkable improvement, climbing two spots in the rankings. Leading for 12 laps during the Daytona 500, Blaney demonstrated his prowess on the track, maintaining an average position of 15.0 throughout the event before the eventual crash.

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With Daytona in the rearview mirror, Blaney sets his sights on Atlanta Motor Speedway. Despite the setbacks, his championship spirit remains burning. He’ll undoubtedly use this experience as fuel for eventual victories in the 2024 season. The question remains, however. Can he overcome the physical and mental challenges of these crashes or will the ghosts of Daytona haunt his title defense?

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Written by:

Amman Augustin

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Amman Augustin is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With his coverage majorly focusing on the lavish off-track lives of drivers, Amman often brings the lesser-known side of Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick to their fans. Another aspect of NASCAR where he flourishes is covering rivalries between competitors.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh