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NASCAR Rescinds Ryan Blaney's Las Vegas Disqualification

Team Penske’s driver leaps from last place back to the sixth-place finish he rightfully earned.  

By Andrew Woodin
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford, waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series 65th Annual Daytona 500

In a city that prides itself on the thrilling theatrics of a big reveal, NASCAR added a dose of its own drama after the league’s sanctioning body decided Monday night to rescind the disqualification it issued to Ryan Blaney and his No. 12 Ford Mustang following the South Point 400 in Las Vegas. The Team Penske car originally had failed a standard, post-race inspection due to what officials ruled as a left-front shock that didn’t meet the legal length.

Upon further assessment of the inspection process at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, the league addressed the issue in a statement.

“After further review of the inspection process throughout this weekend’s events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, NASCAR has rescinded the No. 12 disqualification penalty,” revealed the sanctioning body, according to Motorsport.

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Having been penalized for violating NASCAR Rule Book Section with shocks of irregular length, Blaney's chances of taking home his first Cup Series title took a drastic hit, dropping him from what had been a 6th-place finish to dead last, resulting in him being 56 points below the playoff cut line as the Round of 8 continues. Now, however, with the ruling reversed, Blaney is just 17 points from a spot in the top four.

"Monday morning during its race weekend debrief, NASCAR discovered an issue with the damper template used for inspection,” continued the league’s statement. "NASCAR then conducted a detailed investigation and has restored the No. 12’s stage and race finishing positions from Sunday. NASCAR has taken internal steps to remedy this issue moving forward.”

Ryan Blaney putting on his helmet

Managing director for the NASCAR Cup Series Brad Moran appeared Monday evening on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, shedding some light on how the mix-up occurred in the first place.

“Obviously a lot of shocks go on throughout a weekend,” noted Moran. “They have a set screw underneath it that keeps everything tight, and if they become even the slightest bit loose during a weekend, they actually can basically come loose, shift a little bit. … So, it’s not big numbers we’re talking about here, but there was a way that they could actually come loose, and if they were moved, the shock would go on, and was sealed prior to the race, and that’s where the problem came about post-race. That same shock did not pass the same template that it was on previously.”

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“So again …there was a lot of digging in here to come up with what we did, but when we were all done, NASCAR had ownership in it,” continued Moran. “It was not a team problem, and we’ll own up to that, and that’s why the penalty’s getting rescinded.”

In the wake of Blaney’s exoneration, Team Penske released its own statement Monday night.

“We are pleased with the decision by NASCAR to rescind the post-race disqualification to the No. 12 car following Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway,” Team Penske acknowledged, according to NBC Sports. “NASCAR has shown a tremendous amount of integrity throughout the process which has led to this conclusion. We are proud of the effort and the results by the No. 12 team during the 2023 season. We look forward to continuing the pursuit of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship.”

Following the league’s consequential turnabout, Blaney leaps ahead of Ford wheelman Chris Buescher to move into the seventh slot in the playoff standings, collecting 39 points that include the eight, crucial stage points he earned.

As Blaney valiantly forges ahead closer to achieving his dream of making the Championship 4 race in Phoenix, the Talladega winner will have do so as the sole Team Penske driver remaining in the championship hunt after his teammate and former Cup Series champion Joey Logano was ousted earlier in the playoffs. Austin Cindric in 23rd place was never in contention for the title.

The NASCAR Cup Series will gear up for the final, 1.5-mile oval of the postseason when it cruises into Homestead-Miami this weekend for the 4Ever 400 Presented by Mobil 1 but, though the pressure of having to win either there or at Martinsville has simmered for now, Blaney still needs to close the gap between his Chevrolet and Toyota counterparts and himself to clinch a berth in Arizona. Kyle Larson’s win in Sin City punched his ticket to the Championship 4 finale race in Phoenix, but Christopher Bell showed in the same event that he’s got the speed it takes to be a real contender. And that still leaves Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin – two of the most consistently well-performing racers in NASCAR’s top flight – along with the regular season champion Martin Truex Jr. With the Round of 8 in full swing, it’s safe to say that none of the aforementioned drivers will be going down without putting up a fight.