NASCAR: Overturned disqualification proves meaningless

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Disqualification or no disqualification, Ryan Blaney made sure his Championship 4 spot was safe by winning his way in for the first time in his NASCAR Cup Series career.

A few weeks ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney was disqualified and dropped further below the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 cut line than he already was.

But later on, that disqualification was overturned when NASCAR discovered that the reason for the decision was due to a flawed part they were using in post-race inspection, as opposed to anything actually illegal on the No. 12 Ford.

Blaney’s solid run the following weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway propelled him above the cut line, and he ultimately won at Martinsville Speedway this past Sunday afternoon to lock himself into the Championship 4 for the first time in five career trips to the round of 8.

So while NASCAR’s reversal of Blaney’s Las Vegas disqualification was deemed massive at the time, it ended up not meaning anything.

Even had the disqualification stood, Blaney would be heading to the Championship 4, thanks to his Martinsville win.

Of course, there is no telling how the No. 12 team’s approach might have changed heading into the final two round of 8 races; we’re operating under the assumption that everything else would have remained the same.

But Blaney and the No. 12 team more than likely still would have finished in second and first place at Homestead-Miami and Martinsville, respectively, anyway, since they would have been in true must-win mode.

Give Blaney and the team credit where credit is due. Many people wrote off Team Penske after a regular season which saw them handily beaten by RFK Racing, thus losing their status as Ford’s top team.

Now Blaney is the manufacturer’s only remaining championship contender heading to a track where he has placed second in his two most recent starts. For this, of all seasons, to mark his first Championship 4 appearance is truly impressive, and he has a good chance to be crowned champion.

He will gladly take a repeat of the November 2022 result, when he finished only behind teammate Joey Logano. Such a result this coming weekend will result in Blaney winning his first championship, as Logano was eliminated in the round of 16.

The other three championship contenders are Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron, the winner of the March Phoenix race who is also in his first Championship 4, Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson, the 2021 champion, and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell, the only Championship 4 driver from last year who made it back.

Since the Championship 4 format was implemented back in 2014, the champion has been the winner of the season finale every year.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is offering an extra $150 bonus for any successful $5 bet, lists Larson as the title favorite.

Odds and availability are subject to change.

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Tune in to NBC at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, November 5 for the live broadcast of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race from Phoenix Raceway. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!