INDIANAPOLIS – Even if Ryan Blaney wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway someday, the sting of Saturday’s defeat likely won’t go away.
Blaney was less than a lap away from scoring his first victory at this historic track and giving car owner Roger Penske – who has 16 Indianapolis 500 victories – his second Xfinity win at Indy.
Then it all was gone.
Kyle Busch dived under Blaney to take the lead half a lap from the finish and went on to win the Lilly Diabetes 250.
“It’s my fault,’’ Blaney said after climbing from his car. “I screwed up. This team didn’t deserve that. I dropped the ball for them today. I take full responsibility. It’s all my fault.’’
Said Kyle Busch after his 72nd career Xfinity win: “There was no blocking that kind of run.’’
Crew chief Greg Erwin called the finish a learning experience for Blaney, who led 24 of the 100 laps.
“He knows that is part of him turning into a top-notch, A-level driver,’’ Erwin said. “He’s still so young in his career that you have to learn to lose them like that. That’s just part of the business. ‘’
Erwin said it wasn’t Blaney’s fault. Erwin noted slower cars late in the race and how one such car slowed Blaney enough to help Busch close.
“If it wasn’t for a mistake by the car in front of us, we would have lost today,’’ Busch said.
Erwin raised questions about slower cars on the track in the final laps.
“We caught some lapped traffic and got passed because we had to break momentum,’’ Erwin said. “That’s part of the Xfinity Series as it is right now. We deal with it every week, everywhere we go, and NASCAR is just going to have to take a look and decide if they’re going to continue that or they’re going to start to enforce some of their minimum (speeds).
“That’s part of the game we play. It’s OK, but everyone just has to understand that sometimes stuff like that is going to happen and people are going to win races that shouldn’t win them and people are going to lose races they shouldn’t lose.’’