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Ryan Blaney focused on winning after disqualification rescinded

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Upon hearing that his car had been disqualified after last weekend’s playoff race at Las Vegas, Ryan Blaney said his focus turned to winning one of the two remaining Round of 8 races to earn a spot in the title race.

After NASCAR rescinded the penalty a day later, Blaney admits that he still likely needs to win Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway or next week at Martinsville Speedway to reach the Cup championship race for the first time.

“Probably got to win one of these things even being 17 (points) out unless some guys have problems, you just never know,” Blaney said Saturday morning at Homestead. “Here you can have problems running right by the wall, you can break some stuff pretty easy, so you just go race. You do the best you can.”

Blaney left Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend with a sixth-place finish before crew chief Jonathan Hassler informed him that the car had been disqualified. NASCAR stated that the left front shock did not meet minimal requirements.

NASCAR announced the next day that it discovered an issue with the damper template and that Blaney’s left front shock was legal, restoring his finish and points earned that day.

Instead of being 56 points from the cutline — putting Blaney in a must-win situation — he is 17 points back entering Sunday’s race (coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET on NBC). Blaney will start 10th Sunday. Martin Truex Jr. won the pole.

Blaney is seventh in the playoff standings. He and Chris Buescher, who is last in the playoff standings, are the only two remaining Fords with a chance for the title.

Fords have had their challenges at 1.5-mile tracks this season, even with Blaney winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. But Blaney remains confident.

“I thought last week was the best mile-and-a-half speed that we’ve had since Charlotte, honestly,” Blaney said of the Las Vegas race. “That was encouraging. So, hopefully, we can keep building on that.”

He has yet to win a Cup race at any of the three tracks in the Round of 8 — Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville — but ranks second in points earned at Martinsville in the Next Gen car.

“I feel like we should have won there a few times, it’s just hard to put it together,” Blaney said of Martinsville. “It gives you confidence going in.”