“We weren’t great by any means”: Ryan Blaney reflects on early exit from Coke-600

NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600
NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600

Defending Coca-Cola 600 champion Ryan Blaney fell out of contention early in Sunday's 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 2023 Cup Series champion blew a tire on lap 143 and suffered his second consecutive DNF in the last two points-paying races.

Last year, Blaney qualified for the postseason after winning the Coke 600. He won two more races at Martinsville and Talladega en route to winning his first Cup Series championship.

However, the 30-year-old Team Penske driver was not happy with the way he ran Sunday night's crown jewel event. Blaney brushed against the wall in turns 3 and 4, following a pit halt under green flag conditions, and cut his tire. Recalling the moments before his exit, Blaney said, as reported by FOX:

"I feel like I just made a stop. Just (was) getting up to speed, got into (turn) 3 and blew up a tire; I don't know if I run over something or what it was; I have to look at it. Ashamed getting out that early; not even halfway. Thought we were getting a little better. We weren't great by any means, but I thought we got a little better."
"We were seventh in the first stage and just kinda looking forward to continuing to work all night...just never got that shot," he added.

Ryan Blaney currently sits eighth on points in the NASCAR Cup Series Driver's Championship standings. He has 371 points to his credit.

Ryan Blaney describes his road to the 2023 Cup Series championship as a "full circle"

In a recent interview with FOX Sports, Ryan Blaney described his 2023 Cup Series championship-winning moment as a full-circle experience.

"It’s something that I always wanted to achieve since I was a kid," said Blaney about winning his career's first Cup Series championship. "I had a dad who raced. I grew up watching every race and was around the sport at a young age, saw everybody, these greats that I idolized, win championships. And, as a kid, you want to be that."

The Ford icon grew up in a family of race car drivers and always wanted to win the Cup Series championship, arguably the most prestigious award in the arena of NASCAR.

"You just want to be that person who achieves those things. It’s all come full circle. To know the hard work paid off, the 15 guys you go to battle with every weekend on your team, to share it with them, too, I think is one of the most special things on top of that," he added.

Ryan Blaney has recorded four top-5 and one top-10 performances in NASCAR's point races so far. He finished fifth in last week's All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Next in his schedule is the Enjoy Illinois 300 at the World Wide Technology Raceway on June 3.

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