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O'REILLY AUTO PARTS 500 UPDATES
A caution for debris on Lap 300 set the stage for a sprint to the finish of Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, with a revised cast of contenders involved.
Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick inherited the lead on Lap 291 after Joey Logano pitted under green. When the seventh caution flag flew, Logano – who was running 15th – stayed on-track and inherited the lead as Harvick and Jimmie Johnson and the pack pitted for Goodyear right-side tires.
Meanwhile, Ryan Blaney’s fantastic day went south with a botched pit stop that dropped him from eighth to 13. Blaney had led 148 laps while winning Stages 1 and 2.
With 15 laps to go, the top five were Logano, Johnson, Harvick, Kyle Larson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Blaney Goes 2-For-2
Two stage wins down, one to go for Ryan Blaney in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. But it won’t get any easier for the 23-year-old Wood Brothers Racing star.
Blaney led seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray at the close of Lap 170 of the scheduled 334 around TMS’ repaved and re-profiled 1.5-mile oval. Blaney also won Stage 1, which ended on Lap 85.
Blaney and the top-seven finishers in the stage opted to remain on track and not pit for fresh Goodyear rubber during a caution period that began on Lap 165 for debris on the frontstretch. Staying on track behind Blaney’s No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Fusion were Johnson, McMurray, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne.
That strategy backfired when Blaney pitted during the stage-yellow and dropped to 20th. Polesitter Kevin Harvick was first out of the pits, with Brad Keselowski second as the field began Stage 3.
Scoring top 10 points at the end of Stage 2 were Blaney, Johnson, McMurray, Larson, Elliott, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.
Blaney Still In Control
Third-generation racer Ryan Blaney continues to set a torrid pace during Stage 2 of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
Blaney led 95 of the first 118 laps around TMS’ repaved and re-profiled 1.5 mile oval in the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Fusion, and pushed that total over the 100-lap mark early in Stage 2. Blaney, 23, has brought a fresh perspective to the legendary, Virginia-based Wood Brothers Racing organization.
The last time a Ford fielded by the pioneering NASCAR family led 100-plus laps was on Oct. 31, 1982 at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway, with Neil Bonnett of the “Alabama Gang” at the wheel.
Blaney Takes Stage 1
Third-generation racer Ryan Blaney won Stage 1 of the 21st annual O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon.
Blaney’s lead when the yellow flag flew to end the segment after 85 laps was 0.617-seconds over Martin Truex Jr. in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER BOATS Toyota Camry. Rounding out the top 10, and scoring points, were Jamie McMurray, polesitter Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Joey Logano and Kyle Busch.
“The car’s pretty good,” said Blaney, who started second in the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Fusion fielded by Wood Brothers Racing. “Hopefully we made the right adjustments here (during his pit stop).The wind is kind of gusting in Turn 1 and it’s unpredictable in there.”
Stage 2 will conclude on Lap 170 of the scheduled 334 around the repaved and re-configured 1.5-mile oval.
O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Green Flag
The 21st annual O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is off-and running at Texas Motor Speedway _ except for Austin Dillon. The grandson of team-owner Richard Childress pulled off the track during a warm-up lap and headed to the garage area, reportedly with a broken left trailing arm.
The crew of Dillon’s No. 3 DOW Energy & Water Chevrolet SS had the car on jacks and both left-side tires off to speed up the repair process. Dillon qualified 25th on Friday.
Meanwhile, a pair of cautions marked the early laps around TMS’ re-paved and re-profiled 1.5-mile oval. A caution for debris flew on Lap 3. And a crash in Turn 2 involving the cars driven by Jeffrey Earnhardt, Reed Sorenson and Gray Gaulding brought out the second yellow.
Turns 1 and 2 were re-profiled from 24 degrees of banking to 20 degrees before the offseason repave. Turn 1 also has been widened from 60 to 80-feet.