Asked whether the race might have played out differently had late-race leader Chase Elliott not run out of fuel, Blaney offered a philosophical joke as his answer.
“He ran out of gas, so … there’s really no ‘what ifs.’ If wishes were fishes, the world would be an ocean.”
Allmendinger told Blaney after the race that he “just wasn’t very fast” and that there wasn’t the steam to make a run, but Blaney was still upbeat at how well his day went overall.
“Man, we came from the back really early and were able to drive up through the middle, and our car handled correctly where we could be up the middle and be aggressive when the time was right. We were able to stay up there.
“I think our car had enough time to stay up there, too. We just 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. It was probably something I was doing wrong not to get the right run.”
Blaney, whose previous career-best was a fourth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway last year, said that he felt like not being a rookie helped him to have more friends in the closing laps, but that it was still tough to get a run going.
“I think (not being a rookie) has helped a little bit,” he said. “Really, you can talk all about people not going with young drivers or whoever. 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. It’s kind of circumstance and timing, as far as when you choose to go. If the person behind you thinks they can go with you … they’ll go. Otherwise, you’re stuck.”
But at the end of it all, the Wood Brothers came home as runner-ups in the Daytona 500, something that Blaney hopes will propel them forward to greater things in the weeks to come.
“Any time you get a good finish anywhere, no matter what track it’s at, it always propels you into the next week,” he stressed. “Maybe it feels a little better because it’s the Daytona 500. It doesn’t mean your car is going to be great when you go to Atlanta, and it doesn’t mean your car is going to be great when you go out west, but you feel good.”
“Once we get nine or 10 (races) in, then you can kind of get a good judge of how your cars are and where your team stacks up. But no matter where it is, if you get a good finish, it definitely helps your team confidence-wise for the next week … and maybe a couple weeks after that. I’m excited. We’re happy. We’ll see what we can do going forward.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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