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Ryan Blaney, Michael McDowell at Odds Over McDowell’s Dive-Bomb Move

Ryan Blaney Michael McDowell feud New Hampshire USA Today 301 crash

“I’m at a point in the season, where I have to go for it, too. You don’t know until you get there, and I was just in there a little too deep,” Michael McDowell said of an aggressive dive-bomb move that he attempted on Ryan Blaney on Lap 294 of Sunday’s USA Today 301.

Here is a video of the move in question:

McDowell, who was on the inside of the front row on the Lap 293 restart, admits that the move was a low-percentage attempt, but with where he sat in the championship standings heading into the day (105 points below the cutline), he felt he needed to lay it all on the line for a chance at the win.

As McDowell skidded up the track in Turns 1 and 2, collided with Blaney, and ended both drivers’ hopes at a race win in the process, Blaney was understandably heated on his team radio.

“What the fuck did he think was going to happen,” Blaney asked his team. Blaney continued by calling McDowell a, “Fucking idiot.”

As the final laps wound down in Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, McDowell was able to salvage a 15th-place finish on the day, while Blaney would come home in 25th. After climbing from his No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang Dark Horse, McDowell made a b-line to Blaney on pit road to apologize for the over-aggressive move.

“I was just explaining that I was in a do-or-die situation and I had to go for it,” McDowell said after his chat with Blaney on pit road. “I know it was a low-percentage move, but I had to try. All of the guys that went to the bottom in [Turns] 1 and 2 on those restarts got freight-trained. So, I knew I needed to enter in the middle, and I just got the left sides right on the wet paint and it just kind of took off. I hate it for Blaney, and I know it ruined his day, and it ruined my day too. I apologize to those guys for that.”

While McDowell was remorseful for his move that didn’t pan out, his words doesn’t fix the fact that he also wiped out Blaney’s shot at a race win with his questionable move.

“He said he’s sorry he wrecked me. Apology is nice, but it’s not going to bring back what he did,” Blaney sharply pointed. “So, I knew what he was trying to do. It was like a low-percentage move. It’s wet down there, and you’re just going to stove it off in there, and what do you think is going to happen? You’re going to take both of us out.”

Blaney says he understands McDowell’s situation, and his desperation in needing a race win to advance to the Playoffs in his final season with Front Row Motorsports, but Blaney says you can’t just sail your car into other people.

“I know he’s got to win and all of that, and that’s his excuse, but you have to be a little more calculated than that,” Blaney said. “Just thinks that we’re at the expense of it.”

The other end of the frustration for Blaney was that he had fought tooth-and-nail all race long to get the track position that he had late in the race, and he felt he finally had a car that may have had something for eventual race winner Christopher Bell.

“Man, I really thought we had a decent shot to contend. I was happy because we came in, put tires on, made a big adjustment, and I was looking forward to restarting behind Bell and seeing if we could have anything for him, but never really had a chance,” Blaney shrugged.

But while the finish was a disappointing one for Blaney, he still loves the direction that he has seen out of the Team Penske organization at the shorter tracks that the NASCAR Cup Series has visited in the last month.

He had the lead coming to the white flag at Gateway, but ran out of fuel, he won at Iowa, and he was lined up third on a late-race restart before he was wiped out by McDowell. He likes what he’s seen from his race cars, and with two shorter tracks represented as the final two races of the year (Martinsville and Phoenix), the defending champion is hopeful. But he wants his team to keep working to find even more.

“Long day, and really fast cars. I really like where our short track program is going right now. So, hopefully, we can continue to get that a little bit better,” Blaney said.

As for McDowell, he actually still gained a little bit of ground on the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff cutline as he leaves New Hampshire 22nd on the grid, and 99 points behind Joey Logano, who occupies the 16th and final slot with eight races remaining in the regular season.

Up next for the NASCAR Cup Series is a date with the 1.333-mile concrete Nashville Superspeedway. The fourth annual Ally 400 is set for Sunday, June 30, and will be televised on NBC with the race broadcast currently scheduled for 3:30 PM ET. PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the radio broadcast of that event.

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