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NASCAR Xfinity: Ryan Blaney continues No. 22 dominance with Texas win

FORT WORTH, TX – APRIL 07: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Ryan Blaney led 132 of the 200 laps that made up the My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on Saturday en route to his first series win of the season. Although it was Blaney’s first win of the year, Saturday’s win marked the third-consecutive victory for the No. 22 Team Penske Ford team, adding to Joey Logano’s win at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and Brad Keselowski’s win at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.

“We started up front, and there were a lot of cautions early and in the middle stages of that race,” Blaney said. “It was kind of hard to get going and really tell what your car was doing. The temperatures were so different today from when we practiced yesterday. We didn’t know where we would be at with balance at the beginning of the race. I think we ran two laps in between like three or four cautions, and I didn’t really know what we needed. We were pretty close to begin with, but got behind a little when we got loose on that restart, and then, the stages got broken up. We were able to restart seventh and drive back up to the lead and lead the whole thing after that. It was just a really fast race car. That is three in a row for this team with three different drivers. That says a lot about Brian’s (Wilson, crew chief) work that he has done and the whole team to bring fast race cars to the tracks lately. Hopefully, we can keep this up. It was definitely a fun day.”

Christopher Bell, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Ryan Preece finished second through fifth behind Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular Blaney to make themselves eligible for the first $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus to be awarded next weekend at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway.

“First off, thank you to Xfinity,” Bell said. “It’s a dream come true to race for $100,000, so that’s really special. Our Hello Neighbor / GameStop Camry was really fast, as you guys saw throughout the course of the race. We were able to move our way to the front, just not quite good enough to run with the No. 22 (Blaney) yet. Felt like we were pretty equal at times, but overall, he was just a little bit better than us. Good, solid day. After practice I didn’t think that we had a second-place car. My crew chief Jason Ratcliff and all of our entire team, they definitely make it better every single weekend once it comes time to race. I’m thankful for the opportunity that I have at Joe Gibbs Racing and thankful for all the partners we have as well.”

Blaney led the first 75 laps of the race that included a stage-one win at lap 45, but on a lap-76 restart, Blaney stumbled, giving up several positions. Bell, Preece and Kevin Harvick moved into the top-three of the running order, shuffling Blaney back to fourth.

Brandon Jones won the second 45-lap stage after being among several drivers who stayed out while others pitted during a lap-80 caution. Jones ran second to Blaney through most of the opening stage. On lap 99, Jones was responsible for the eighth and final caution of the race when he hit the wall.

The varying pit strategies of some pitting during the lap-80 yellow flag and others at the end of the second stage at lap 90 put Hemric up front at the start of the 110-lap third and final stage of the race. Blaney restarted seventh. With 79 laps remaining, Blaney moved into second, and with 68 laps to go, he got by Hemric for the lead, four laps prior to the start of a green-flag cycle of pit stops. When the cycle completed, Blaney was the race leader with Bell in second.

Hemric, along with Harvick, Matt Tifft and Elliott Sadler started the race in the back after the day’s qualifying session was cut short by rain. Hemric, Tifft and and Harvick were in the top-20 by the third caution of the race at lap 16, with Sadler in 21st. By the end of the opening stage, Harvick and Tifft were in the top-10. Tifft was the highest race finisher of the group, finishing sixth.

Jamie McMurray finished seventh after being the caution of the second caution of the race on lap nine. Sadler finished eighth, Austin Cindric was ninth, and Spencer Gallagher rounded out the top-10. Harvick wound up 19th at the checkered flag after losing positions on pit road during multiple cautions, and then, making an unscheduled pit stop for a vibration with 24 laps remaining.

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Posted by on April 8, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR,NASCAR Xfinity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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