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Can Ryan Blaney Capture the 2024 Daytona 500?

Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/PEAK Ford, poses for a photo on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Ryan Blaney will start his ninth full-time NASCAR Cup Series season when he takes the green flag at the 2024 Daytona 500.

The 66th Great American Race will be held on Sunday, February 18th from Florida’s historic Daytona International Speedway. Blaney enters the season-starting event as the defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion. His Title came with three victories including the crown jewel Coca-Cola 600 in May and two Playoff wins at Talladega Superspeedway and Martinsville Speedway.

Blaney’s superspeedway prowess is unmatched. Last season’s Talladega victory punched his ticket into the Round of 8, ultimately resulting in the most successful season of his motorsports career. The win was his third trip to the winners’ circle at Talladega, and in 2021, Blaney would claim Daytona’s Coke Zero Sugar 400. He is also ranked 1st among full-time drivers with an average finish of 11.2 in the last twelve superspeedway races (excluding Atlanta Motor Speedway’s reconfiguration).

Ryan Blaney has many years left racing at NASCAR’s pinnacle, but there is one feat he has yet to capture: the coveted Daytona 500.

A History of Chances


After two full-time seasons in the Craftsman Truck Series, Ryan Blaney would be signed on part-time to drive the Wood Brothers Racing’s iconic No. 21 Ford. He had made two Cup Series starts with Team Penske in 2014, but the expanded schedule would lead to a planned 19-race season. The gig began with the 2015 Daytona 500 in his first superspeedway debut.

After spending an early part of the race inside the top fifteen, Tony Stewart would get loose on lap 41 and spin into Blaney exiting turn two. The damage was insignificant, and the youthful driver would find himself hovering around the top ten with 30 to go. However, his engine would soon expire and would finish in the 39th position.


The following year, Blaney was brought on full-time for the Stuart, Virginia team. In his Daytona Duel, he recovered to a third-place finish giving him a 7th place start. The race was not as eventful, spending most of the race stuck from 10th to 20th place. Blaney attempted to mount a late charge with a third line on the outside, but it would fizzle out and lead to a 19th-place finish.


Ryan Blaney’s third and final Daytona 500 with the Wood Brothers started behind the eight ball. Most of Duel was spent battling amongst the top three with greats Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. However, after David Ragan turned Johnson into Blaney on the backstretch, it would result in the move to a backup car.

The race was the first with stages, and he would find himself inside the top ten for both segments. With 65 to go, Blaney triggered a wreck after attempting to hit pit road with a soft tire. The race later turned to fuel strategy, and with five laps to go, the driver found himself 12th in a twelve-car breakaway. Blaney made a miraculous run on the final lap from 7th to 2nd, finishing one spot short of a burnout.


Starting in 2018, Blaney would take over driving duties of the No. 12 for Team Penske. This followed a Round of 8 appearance in the 2017 Playoffs as well as his first Cup Series win at the first Pocono Raceway event.

The year started strong with Blaney taking the checkered flag in his Duel. In the Daytona 500, a multi-car crash was triggered after a block for second from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Blaney would take the Stage Two win and find himself leading a race-high 118 laps. However, the dominant run came to an end in the final miles. With two to go, Blaney would turn 2017 victor Kurt Busch causing a large crash and damage to his Ford. A smaller field would see him settle in 7th.


A mediocre result in the 2019 Duel led to a mediocre start for Ryan Blaney in the 500. The start was methodical, patiently working his way through the field before finding the lead and Stage Two victory. Unfortunately, with ten laps to go, a 21-car pileup occurred in turn three, and Blaney was forced to retire from the race. The result was a 31st place, marking his second “Did Not Finish” (DNF) in the Great American Race.


Attempt six saw trouble for Blaney in his Duel race. Miscommunication amongst Fords saw he and Daniel Suarez make contact during pit stops, resulting in a crash. Suarez would not make the big show, and Blaney was forced into a Penske Racing backup.

In the race, Blaney battled and contested his way regularly inside the Top 10. Hopes of finishing nearly vanished with 17 laps to go after being involved in a large crash on the backstretch. The damage was survival, and with a few late-race crashes, Blaney ended up in a three-car overtime battle with Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman. Coming to the checkered flag, Blaney made a move on Newman for the win. A block resulted in a horrific flip from Newman, which stands as one of the most vicious crashes in NASCAR history. By inches, Blaney would finish second to Hamlin.


The 2021 Daytona 500 was a forgettable one for Ryan Blaney. Nothing materialized in his Duels, and his trip would come to an early end. A pileup entering turn three saw Blaney nearly escape before wet grass tore his front splitter to shreds. Despite the quick misfortune, he would go on to win the Daytona fall race.


Blaney versus rookie Austin Cindric was the storyline of 2022’s running. On the white flag of their Duel, Blaney lagged back to get the help of his teammate for a run. Instead, Cindric made the pass while Brad Keselowski went on to win the qualifier.

The pairing found themselves battling it out for the Daytona 500. A late race caution saw the two lined up in first and second with Cindric leading the field. Coming to the finish line, Blaney timed a move to the outside with help from friend Bubba Wallace. However, Cindric would pinch the No. 12 into the wall sending a crashing Blaney to a 4th place finish.


In 2023, Ryan Blaney went on to lead laps and finish 3rd in his Duel. The strong precursor was unfortunately marred at Sunday’s 500. With roughly 80 laps to go, Blaney would be clipped in the right rear by a spinning Tyler Reddick, going on to make hard contact with the turn-four wall. Soon later, a caution fell for Blaney due to a blown tire.

Surprisingly, the damage was not enough to ruin Blaney’s chances. He paced most of the latter part of the race two laps down in 34th. A few late cautions propelled Blaney to a miraculous Top 15 on the final lap before getting swept up in a wreck. Due to a few cars crashing out, the soon-to-be Champion of 2023 was credited with 8th.

No. 10 for Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney seemed to be in position for another strong Duel and starting spot in the 2024 Daytona 500. In the closing laps, he would be turned head-on into the trioval wall after Brad Keselowski turned William Byron. The impact was near-identical to Blaney’s horrific wreck in the 2023 Coke Zero Sugar 400. It was also his third consecutive Daytona race with a crash by right-rear contact. As a result, he will start in a backup for this weekend’s race.

“Young” Ryan Blaney joins Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr. as active NASCAR Cup Series Champions without a Daytona 500 ring. Can he win this weekend’s 66th running in his tenth attempt?

Catch the monumental race on Sunday, February 18th at 2:30 pm ET (12:30 pm PT) on FOX. Stay tuned here at LWOS Motorsports for NASCAR news, results, updates, and more.


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