Ryan Blanchard broke through for his first Speed51 Elite Modified win Tuesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway after having come close on several occasions. He took the lead on a restart around lap 100 and led the rest of the way, holding off Ryan Doucette, Bryan Narducci, and Brandon Wilkinson on a green-white-checkered to seal the deal.
With a slew of former winners on his tail for the final third of the race, he had to be perfect at “The Last Great Colosseum.” He had no plan as to how to hold them at bay, he was just going to do what he could.
“I didn’t really have a strategy, I just needed to get a really good start there,” Blanchard said on the broadcast. “I’m teammates with Brandon Wilkinson, I knew he was going to have a good car tonight and he had a good car. He gave me a run for my money there with 50 to go coming to green. Holding those guys off was probably the hardest thing I had to do in this whole race, maybe in this whole season.”
The win was a surprise to Blanchard, who thought his chances of winning were slim after qualifying. After starting fifth, he worked through the field for his maiden win.
“I didn’t think I was going to win this race. I came in here P2 and Joey Bailey was fast in practice. We had a poor qualifying effort but I’m happy that our long-run speed transferred over to the race.
Points leader Ryan Doucette overcame yet another end-of-line penalty to finish second after original runner-up Bryan Narducci was hit with an EOL penalty of his own. He had to work his way back through the field under difficult passing conditions, and was able to maintain his lead in the standings.
“Passing was extremely difficult, you had to pay attention to who was in front of you and who was leading a lane and you had to go with whichever lane was moving,” Doucette said. “It was a big guessing game.
“I haven’t looked at the points. You guys told me I was leading after last week and I’ve added to my top-three total, every race I’ve finished I’ve finished in the top-three. Just looking to keep up with that consistency.”
Brandon Wilkinson, Kenny Kibbey, and Jay Kanor rounded out the top five.
The Speed51 Elite Modified Tour heads to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for next week’s race. Fans can watch a replay of Tuesday’s race by clicking here.
Fans can view the entire schedule of sim racing broadcasts on Speed51 by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3