Ryan Blaney had the best finish of the season, a rookie-best fifth in the Go Bowling 400 on Saturday night at Kansas Speedway — and it wasn’t his best news of the weekend.
Blaney learned the previous evening that his father, Dave Blaney, had escaped injury after he was involved in a sprint-car crash during qualifying for the World of Outlaws event Friday night at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Ryan wasn’t the first to hear about his father, who called his son Saturday morning to talk about his crash and Ryan’s race later that night.
After qualifying Friday, Blaney got back to his motor home, where he left his phone. He had a load of text messages. Had he heard the news? Is everything all right? Can we help? Blaney still wasn’t sure what had happened. Then he checked social media.
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“It’s amazing how you find out what’s going on on Twitter from other people than getting texts or calls or something like that,” Blaney said. “When I initially saw it, I was a little worried because they made it sound worse than what it was on Twitter.
“I called one of his crew guys, and he told me he was going to be all right. He was alert and awake and everything like that.”
Once he knew his father was fine, Blaney could concentrate on his race at a track where he has known success in his young career. Blaney made his Sprint Cup debut in the 2014 5-Hour Energy 400, finishing 27th.
He got the second top-10 finish of his career in 2015, placing seventh in the Hollywood Casino 400. Earlier that year, Blaney finished fourth at Talladega.
He’s off to a solid start in his rookie season for Wood Brothers Racing. Saturday marked his second straight top-10 finish and fourth of the season.
“We had a good run today,” Blaney said. “Just really proud of my team for what they did. From where the car was yesterday, to change pretty much everything on the car and have it be that competitive on the race track today says a lot about our team.
“We went down some different roads throughout the weekend that didn’t work and were able to go with what we normally run and be competitive.”
A critical moment occurred with 26 laps remaining. Blaney was running just inside the top 10 when a collision played out in front of him.
“I was right behind it,” Blaney said. “I saw smoke, had to bail out of there. It actually hurt the nose a little bit, which was unfortunate. But luckily we were able to get by that and move on.”
At that moment, Ryan found himself more fortunate than his dad. Dave Blaney, a former NASCAR driver, was in fourth place when he hit the wall in turns one and two on his second qualifying lap. He underwent a CT scan overnight that revealed no breaks or fractures, but Blaney did not race at Eldora on Saturday.
“I haven’t seen a video of it,” Ryan Blaney said. “I was told there was a video of it. I don’t know if I want to watch it. He’s going to be all right. He’s probably mad he’s going to be out for a little bit, but that’s the only thing he’ll be upset about.”