Ryan Blaney and industry race on amid impact of Ryan Newman wreck
LAS VEGAS – Ryan Blaney left Las Vegas with the disappointment of seeing a potential win slip through his fingers Sunday for the second consecutive week.
This one will be a little easier to stomach.
On a day when the NASCAR Cup Series went back to racing following the horrific wreck six days earlier that ended the Daytona 500, Blaney nearly completed an emotional journey Sunday.
A late caution and decision to pit kept him out of victory lane a week after he nearly won the Daytona 500 but ended up making the initial contact with Ryan Newman that sent the NASCAR industry into a chaotic worry.
Caution. 6 to go. Now things get interesting. pic.twitter.com/SZEJBRzc19
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 23, 2020
“It’s just part of it,” Blaney said. “The caution comes out, and as the leader, that’s really tough to make that call. You can’t blame [my crew chief] for that. … It definitely stinks that we didn’t win the race.
“I thought we had a real good shot at it.”
Following Blaney’s contact with Newman at Daytona, Newman’s car hit the wall, turned upside-down and was slammed into on the driver’s side door by Corey LaJoie. Newman was transported directly to the hospital from Daytona, and it was a nervous few hours until NASCAR announced he did not have life-threatening injuries. Newman walked out of the hospital Wednesday, and in a statement read Sunday by Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark, revealed he has a head injury.
“I was fortunate to avoid any internal organ damage or broken bones,” Newman said in the statement read by Newmark. “I did sustain a head injury for which I’m currently being treated. The doctors have been pleased with my progression over the last few days.”
— Roush Fenway (@roushfenway) February 23, 2020
On Sunday, Blaney was leading Alex Bowman when the caution came out with five laps remaining. He pitted and ended up restarting ninth. His Team Penske teammate Joey Logano didn’t pit and held on for the win, while Blaney didn’t get a good restart and settled for 11th on a day when he led 19 laps.
The leader in these situations is typically doomed no matter the choice. In fact, Logano didn’t hear instructions to pit.
Blaney just can’t seem to get a break on the track. But off the track, he has had the sense of relief that has accompanied Newman’s recovery.
“Seeing Ryan progress has been great,” Blaney said. “I got to talk to him during the week, so that was nice to hear his voice. It makes me feel better when I see Ryan doing better.”
While they raced at Las Vegas, much of the talk of the weekend remained about what happened with Newman. Newmark said Newman plans to return to the car – there is no timetable – but soon enough that he could still compete for the championship by winning a race and finishing in the top-30 in the Cup standings.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 23, 2020
NASCAR will do an accident reconstruction to determine if it needs to make any changes to the cars. It is synchronizing its incident data recorder, the high-speed camera footage that is in every Cup car that is focused on the cockpit and other video from the accident.
“It’s fair to say that it’s still early in terms of as we look through this, but we’re going to look at everything and anything in terms of the “speeds,” NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell said. “The lift-off, you’ve heard me say many times before, we never want a car to get airborne, so we’ll look at how that occurred around the speeds.
“We’ll look at the racing procedures we have in place, as well. All of those will be on the table as we look to head into Talladega, and if we need to make adjustments around the aero balance and speeds as it relates to safety, we’ll do that.”
Ryan Newman walked out of the hospital less than 48 hours after his Daytona wreck. Here is a look at the safety features that helped make that possible. pic.twitter.com/B989pj4LEO
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 19, 2020
The drivers seemed resigned that the style of racing at Daytona and Talladega contributes to that type of accident.
“That’s just part of the deal,” said Martin Truex Jr. “I feel like a lot of people have gotten numb to it over the years because the cars have gotten so safe, but they are still – you have potential for danger.
“I think that’s why we sign waivers when we get in these things.”
While they sign waivers for legal responsibility, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a human element when these accidents happen.
Blaney showed no indication of being timid when racing for the lead Sunday. Some might think being involved in the accident at Daytona could impact the way he raced.
“Not one bit,” Blaney said.
That would surprise few who know Blaney. Logano felt that, as Blaney said, Newman’s leaving the hospital helped Blaney and the industry get through the week.
“I’ve talked with him,” Logano said. “He seems to be OK. … It’s not anything he can do, it’s just a position that our sport puts us in sometimes, and everyone is racing for the biggest race of the year. I think everyone would get that and understand that.
“Obviously that’s a hard spot, and no matter what, however you look at it, it’s a hard spot to be put in, thinking that way, and you’re going to relive it in your mind over and over again no matter you are and how mentally strong you think you are.
Tweet of the Race
P2 today!! We are gonna have some serious fun this year. My whole 21 team is freakin awesome 💪🏻
— Matt DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) February 24, 2020
They Said It
“It was just a crappy situation. We fight our butts off to get the lead there from third and get it. … The caution came out and we pitted, some guys didn’t, some guys took two and we just end up getting absolutely destroyed with people not knowing how many cars were to the outside of them.”
— Ryan Blaney