The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway turned out to be a long, frustrating experience for Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team as they finished 31st, 11 laps behind the leaders.
Blaney started 12th and quickly moved into the top 10 only to have the Lady in Black reach out and slap him.
After pitting for repairs from his brush with the wall, Blaney returned to the track two laps in arrears. He took the wave-around to make up one of those laps and was the free pass driver during a caution period at Lap 126.
Back on the lead lap, he quickly dispatched the lap-down drivers he started behind and began working his way back toward the front.
Then Lady Luck turned on him in the form of an engine issue that left him with a loss of power that plague him for the remainder of the race.
Even so, he managed to hang onto the lead lap before more contact with the wall led to a long stay on pit road.
Back on the track, Blaney soldiered his way to the checkered flag in 31st place.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said there were bright spots from the Throwback-themed weekend at Darlington.
The paint scheme on the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion was designed to honor the days in the 1980s when Kyle Petty was the team’s driver.
“We really appreciate Kyle helping out with that,” Wood said. “He wore his uniform from back then, took a lot of pictures and overall did a great job representing our team.”
And, Wood said, it was a great feeling to be at Darlington with its emphasis on the throwback theme and a packed grandstand for Sunday night’s race.
“Outside of the Daytona 500, the Southern 500 at Darlington is as good as it gets,” he said.
Now Wood and the team turn their attention to the final race of the regular season on Saturday night at Richmond Raceway and the start of the playoffs the following week.
“We’ll just keep plugging away and try to have a good run at Richmond to end the regular season strong and start the playoffs on a positive note,” he said.