Can Ryan Blaney get close to the playoffs? – NASCAR Talk

Ryan Blaney Playoffs will likely play on points, but with the regular season coming to a close, a win will definitely make it easier for him to sleep at night. The chances of getting 16 different winners in the regular season are slim, but it’s not zero.

It’s not unprecedented for a Penske driver to win his first race late in the year. Blaney finished qualifying on points in 2018 and 2019. His first win came in the 35th and 31st races, respectively.

Last year, Blaney secured his spot in the Annex early in Atlanta. His other wins that year were his last two regular season races.

And don’t forget that he won this year’s All-Star Race.

Don’t write it off until the transporters leave Daytona.

Blaney in 2022

The 2022 Blaney season has had its ups and downs, as the chart below shows.

Rank week by week and final position by Ryan Blaney

It has secured seven positions between second and fifth and 10 positions in the top ten. These seven finishes from the P2-P5 are just one less than it was in all of 2021.

Aside from the finishes, Blaney is having a great season. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Blaney’s relationships with Denny Hamlin And the Christopher Bell For most three-columns.
  • He’s second in the average running position at 11.0. just tracks Chase Elliotwhose average current operating position is 10.2.
  • Blaney ranks second in average starting position (8.95), just behind Kyle Larson (8.43).
  • He placed second in quality passes with a score of 1,298. Elliott leads with 1,403.

The driver who is third in points has a streak of thirds as well.

  • Blaney is third in the drivers’ rating of the season behind Elliott and Ross Chastain.
  • He’s third in Green Banner pace overall, and was again beaten by Elliott and Chastain.
  • Blaney’s 13.1-track average finish position is just Elliott and Chastain.
  • He has the third highest percentage of laps in the top 15 with 73.1 percent.

Blaney also has five stage wins, and has driven more loops on tracks than anyone else in 2022. The only places where he hasn’t progressed are Bristol dirt races, Darlington, Sonoma, Loudon, and Pocono. The second-ranked drivers in the list of laps made on different tracks are Larson, Joey Logano And the Kyle Bush

But Blaney’s future – even if he plays in the qualifiers – is tainted by some significant drawbacks.

  • Blaney has yet to finish higher than third this season.
  • His most recent points win was 31 races at the 2021 Summer Daytona.
  • The list of five tracks where he did not drive laps includes the last two race tracks. He finished in the top 15 in both races.
  • Although Blaney had three poles, he hasn’t had a pole since Richmond.
  • His last performance is in a down cycle. He has finished outside the top 10 in three of the last four races.
  • Blaney is one of three drivers in the top ten without a win.

Blaney was a contender for the regular-season points championship, but his recent decline overlapped Elliott’s five-place streak in first- and second-place finishes. The most worrying thing is that Blaney lost 49 points Martin Truex Jr. In the last two races. Truex is the last driver to run the qualifier on points if there are no new qualifier winners.

Manufacturer Ford Blaney is struggling with the next generation car. The Blue Oval has had just four wins in 21 races this year: two from Logano and one each from Austin Cendrick And the Chase Brisco.

Even though I didn’t win, I still consider Blaney the best driver for Ford. Lugano’s season graph is like an overview of the other Ford winners this year: more lower than higher, though higher up than Blaney. Logano’s average finish is 15.9 compared to Blaney’s 13.1.

Rank week by week and Joey Lugano's final position

Blaney comes out Kevin Harvick as a stronger leader. While their final averages are comparable, Blaney has a much better starting average.

Why doesn’t Blaney win races?

Harvic . Challenge It’s been a qualifying year this year, but that’s not my problem. In addition to all of the above, Blaney is fifth in the lead finishes, fourth in the top five, seventh in the top ten and eighth in fastest laps.

It’s hard to find stats where Blaney is low on the list.

But there is one.

The “locking in” law measures the driver’s running position at the 90 percent mark of the race relative to the driver’s final position. In other words, it measures how many positions he wins – or loses – in the last 10 percent of a race.

The following chart shows the total number of positions gained or lost in the last 10 percent of all 21 races this season. I only included eight drivers with an average finishing position of less than 15, because those drivers are my Blaney peer group.

Vertical bar graph showing positions gained or lost during the last 10% of races in the 2022 season

Blaney has a net loss of 20 places in the last 10 percent of the races this season. It’s not the worst in this stat column, but only eight full-time drivers rank below Blaney in closing. As for the other Ford drivers, Blaney beats Harvick (-21), Briscoe (-34) and Logano (-57).

Blaney lost 14 places in the last 10 percent of the race in Atlanta, 11 places in Fontana and 10 in Darlington. The most positions he’s held in closing sessions for a single race is eight in Nashville.

Compare those numbers with current front-runner Elliott, who has 25 spots in the same laps.

the future

Blaney is in relegation, but his touchdowns have lasted no more than a few races this season. He has plenty of time to win before the playoffs, if not the playoffs.

Sunday’s second race at the Indianapolis Road Raceway might be one of Blaney’s best chances of winning. Toyota has Struggle in the road cycles This year, giving Blaney a potential edge over Truex.

Blaney also has the most points in road courses this year – 115. Chastain leads, second with 106 points, and Elliott, who is third with 104 points.

NASCAR designed the current match system to balance wins and consistency. It’s impossible at this point to know if the wider distribution of the gains is inherent in the next generation car or is just a result of introducing a new car.

Some fans want enough winners – at least 17 – that simply winning isn’t enough to get into the playoffs. The 2022 qualifiers will already disqualify at least one driver potentially in the top 10 in favor of drivers with at least four of the top 10 races in 21 races.

If this pattern continues, NASCAR may have to re-examine the format and determine if the balance has shifted too little to win.

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