Runner-up Ryan Blaney earns best result for Wood Brothers since 2011 Daytona 500 win

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Following the 59th Daytona 500, a race held on a 2.5-mile superspeedway, Ryan Blaney shared a thought with AJ Allmendinger.

“Looks like everyone ran a race at Martinsville,” Blaney said, referring to the half-mile track in Virginia that chews up race cars and spits them out. “Everyone’s stuff was tore up. Only a handful of cars left at the end.”

Blaney was one of them.

The 23-year-old driver took his beat-up No. 21 Ford – but not as beat up as race winner Kurt Busch‘s No. 41 – and survived multiple wrecks and a fuel-mileage battle to finish second in The Great American Race.

It’s the best result in Blaney’s first 55 NASCAR Cup Series starts and his fifth top-five. All of those have come with Wood Brothers Racing, which earned its best result since winning the Daytona 500 in 2011 with Trevor Bayne.

With just under 10 laps to go, Blaney was running in the back of the lead pack with little hope of winning the biggest race of the year. Yet he was still in an enviable position after being involved in a five-car crash on Lap 136 that dinged up his Ford.

“I tried to make a move with 10 to go to see what would happen,” Blaney said. “No one really went with me. (Joey Logano) tried to. It really wasn’t happening. I was kind of worried it was just going to end that way.”

But Blaney’s prospects rapidly began changing. With two laps remaining, leader Chase Elliott pulled up lame on the backstretch as his No. 24 ran out of gas. The single-file line that had inhabited the top of the track began dissolving. As the field came down to the white flag, Blaney finally received a productive push from Logano.

“We were able to lay back to him and get a huge run into (Turn) 1,” Blaney said.

Martin Truex Jr. was also out of gas and had lost the lead, which now belonged to Kyle Larson — but not for long. In Turn 1, Kurt Busch went outside and passed Larson’s No. 42, which was running out of fuel.

“(Busch’s move) kept my run going, all the way up to second,” said Blaney, who took his place in the waiting line for history.

Down the backstretch, Blaney saw AJ Allmendinger in his rear-view mirror and expected the No. 47 to attach itself to his bumper and push them toward Busch. Help never got close enough.

“I just wasn’t very fast,” Allmendinger said. “I was still wide open. … That was all we had.”

The No. 21 began “sputtering pretty bad” in Turn 3, a sign Blaney also would be out of gas soon. However, there was enough for Blaney to earn the best finish of his Cup career, 0.223 seconds behind the biggest win of Busch’s career.

All that was after Blaney started at the rear of the field in a backup car following an accident in his Can-Am Duel on Thursday.

“Our backup car was honestly, I felt, like just as good,” Blaney said. “I think our car had enough time to stay up there, too. We could never grab the lead at the time being the one car up front trying to block lanes. We could never get the right push at the right time. Probably something I was doing wrong not to get the right run.”

Blaney led two laps Sunday, the 49th and 50th, as he clashed with Kyle Busch.

The son of former Cup driver Dave Blaney now has two top fives at restrictor-plate races. The first came at Talladega in 2015 as a rookie. Sunday’s Daytona 500 was his first race without the neon yellow rookie stripes on his rear bumper.

“The yellow things on the back bumper helped not being there any more,” Blaney said. “Really, you can talk all about people not going with young drivers or whoever. Really at the end of these things you’re kind of forced to go with whoever wants to go. Today, luckily we had a teammate with Joey behind us who would go with us.”

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Jimmie Johnson to start in the rear after gear change

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INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson‘s bid for a record-tying fifth Brickyard 400 will have to begin at the back of the 40-car field.

Johnson qualified fourth Saturday but stated on Twitter that he’ll have to go to the rear of the field because they had to change the rear gear.

Although track position is pivotal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because passing is difficult, optimists can view Johnson’s woes as a good sign. He has scored two of his three wins this season – Texas and Dover – after starting in the rear.

Also starting at the rear today is Cole Whitt (rear gear change) and Joey Gase (engine change). Whitt qualified 34th. Gase qualified 38th.

Today’s race is on NBC. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green.

 

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Today’s Cup race at Indianapolis: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The NASCAR Cup Series takes part in the 24th annual Brickyard 400 today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It marks one year since Kyle Busch earned his last Cup win, when he claimed his second Brickyard 400 in a row. Busch starts from the pole for the second year in a row.

Here’s all the important info you need ahead of the race, which airs on NBC.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 2:32 p.m. Green flag is set for 2:44 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 160 laps (400 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 20

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 50. Stage 2 ends on Lap 100.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:55 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Carly Pearce will perform the Anthem at 2:26 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 1:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 89 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 149 of the race’s 170 total laps. It was his second win in a row in the race. Matt Kenseth finished second, Jimmie Johnson finished third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the full starting lineup.

Get a humorous look at life in the pits in, what else, ‘The Pits’ on NBC livestream

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Life in the pits can sometimes, well … really be the pits.

But it can also be a hilarious look at life in NASCAR, as well.

That’s the premise behind “The Pits,” a three-part “mockumentary-style series” that spoofs the life of the fictitious SONIC pit crew in NASCAR.

“The Pits” debuts Sunday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. After each 2-3 minute episode airs, replays will be available on NBCSports.com and also the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page.

The first episode airs during this Sunday’s live stream of the Brickyard 400, which will be televised on NBC.

Episode 1 follows pit pro Rita, who falls for tire specialist Max, but Max’s only affection is for SONIC Pretzel Dogs.

The other two episodes of The Pits will livestream Saturday night, August 19, during the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and during the Sunday, October 15 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“The Pits” is produced for NBC Sports Group and SONIC Drive-In by The Kicker, with shareable content running across NBC Sports Digital assets.

Starting lineup for 24th annual Brickyard 400

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Kyle Busch will lead the Brickyard 400 to the green flag Sunday for the second year in a row.

He earned his fourth pole of the year and is seeking his first Cup win since the 2016 Brickyard 400.

Following Busch in the starting lineup is Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin is the only driver in the top five who hasn’t won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Click here for the full starting lineup.