‘This one is going to sting’ Blaney says of WWTR heartbreak

With two laps left in Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300, Ryan Blaney looked to be cruising to his first win of the 2024 season.

At the white flag, the defending champion’s day was falling apart.

Blaney’s No. 12 team had made the most of a solid day, going off-strategy from the dominant Christopher Bell and giving themselves an opportunity to secure a victory. Blaney inherited the lead as final pit stops rolled through. Bell offered him a significant challenge in the closing laps, but was met with motor issues and faded back.

That left Blaney with a comfortable lead over Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric heading into the last 10 laps. The race seemed to be in hand, though Cindric managed to close to within two seconds as Blaney fought traffic.


Coming off of Turn 4 to take the white flag, Blaney realized he had an issue. He was out of fuel.

All he could do was coast home from there. Cindric shot past him to take a season-altering win. The rest of the lead-lap cars made their way past, too. While the No. 2 team began to celebrate its first win since the 2022 Daytona 500, Blaney crept across the line and radioed a simple message to his team.

“This one is going to…sting,” he said.

Blaney wound up 24th at race’s end – a result that does little to help his playoff standing, particularly with Cindric winning from 20th. Worrying about the playoff bubble hasn’t been on the champ’s mind for most of the season. He sat sixth in the standings leaving Kansas Speedway in May. A pair of consecutive DNFs and Sunday’s fuel strategy fumble are causing Blaney to freefall in the standings.

Moments earlier it seemed like Blaney was going to make points a non-factor with a playoff-clenching win. He had no clue he was close on fuel until it was too late.

“Never thought in my mind we were short,” he said afterward. “One of those things, gosh. I’m proud of the No. 12 boys. The Menards Richmond Ford was fast. I had my work cut out for me holding off Christopher. That was a fun battle; I don’t know what happened to him.

“Just one lap short, which stinks. Congrats to the No. 2 team. They did a good job all day. Props to them, Austin [Cindric]. I’m proud for Team Penske and Ford. Really happy with our showing today.

“I don’t know what I’ve got to do to get some luck on our side. We’ve wrecked the last two points races. I thought we had a great shot to win today and it ended up bad. I appreciate the effort, just gotta keep sticking with it.”

Story originally appeared on Racer