Ryan Blaney misses late wreck, leaves Kansas with first top-five finish of season

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Ryan Blaney got help from friends in earning his first top-five finish of the year.

Unfortunately, that help wasn’t voluntary.

On Lap 241 of the 267-lap Go Bowling 400, Blaney was running seventh when a three-car accident unfolded in front of him involving Denny Hamlin and Team Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.

Blaney, who calls Keselowski and Logano teammates through a technical alliance with Penske and Wood Brothers Racing, slipped past the wreck.

“I didn’t see who got loose, who got into who, I just saw smoke and had to bail out of there,” Blaney said. “Actually think it hurt my car a little bit.  I had to bail to the apron and it hurt the nose a little bit, which was unfortunate, but luckily we were able to get by that and move on.”

Blaney would finish fifth, his second top-five finish of his career after placing fourth at Talladega Superspeedway in 2015.

“We got some spots with that little accident, but we were up there all day,” said Blaney, who had an average running spot of 7.3 during the race at Kansas Speedway.

Blaney ran as high as second, but couldn’t close the gap on the leaders during the final 18 laps.

“The top two (Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth) were on old tires and I’m like, ‘We might be able to be all right,’” Blaney said. “But we just couldn’t get by those guys and held on.”

The top five is just the fourth for Wood Brothers Racing since 2008. Before this year, it’s last full-time season was in 2008. With support from Penske, Blaney has four top-10 finishes through the first 11 races of the season.

“That’s the most competitive we’ve been all race long in quite a while,” team co-owner Len Wood said in a press release. “Ryan did a great job, and the pit crew was spot-on.”

Blaney’s performance came about 24 hours after he learned his father, former Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney, had been in a violent sprint car crash at Eldora Speedway.

The elder Blaney didn’t receive any major injuries and was released from the hospital Saturday.

“I knew last night he was gonna be all right,” said the rookie driver, who believed his father had arrived back home in time to watch his race. “It scared me for one second because we got done qualifying yesterday and I get back to the motorhome and I left my phone in the bus and I got all these text messages like, ‘Heard the news.  Is everything alright?’”

Ryan Blaney said he wasn’t distracted by thoughts of his father’s incident, but that he hadn’t seen video of the wreck and probably wouldn’t.

“He’s gonna be all right,” Ryan Blaney said. “He’s probably mad he’s gonna be out of sprint cars for a little bit, but that’s the only thing he’ll be upset about.”

If Dave Blaney was watching Saturday night, he definitely didn’t have anything more to be upset about.