Blaney holds off former champions to capture first career victory
By Daniel Courson
June 11, 2017
LONG POND, Pa. – Ryan Blaney chased down and passed a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion with ten laps remaining and held off another past champion to capture his first career victory in NASCAR’s premier series.
Blaney elected to pit for four tires during the last caution in the Axalta Presents the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway, while Kyle Busch, the 2015 champion, remained out on the race track.
Blaney restarted third, and got around Brad Keselowski for second. It took less than five laps for Ryan Blaney to catch and clear Kyle Busch, who led for 100 circuits around the Tricky Triangle.
Blaney held off Kevin Harvick, the 2015 champion, to become the third first-time winner in 2017.
This was the first victory for the Wood Brothers since 2011.
Pole-sitter Kyle Busch led the opening 17 laps.
Martin Truex Jr., who was scheduled to start on the outside pole position, was sent to the rear for an engine change, joining Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse in the back of the field for the green flag.
On Lap 6, while running in the sixth position, Joey Logano came to pit road for an unscheduled pit stop due to a flat left rear tire. Logano returned to the track in 39th place.
Eleven laps later, onlap 12, Ryan Blaney entered pit lane for a loose wheel. Blaney would easily go on to overcome this early incident.
Darrell Wallace Jr. was busted for speeding in four different sections on lap 24, and sped while serving that penalty. Wallace returned to the race track in the 37th position. Wallace Jr. was never able to overcome the three penalties, unofficially finishing in the 26th position.
Erik Jones assumed the race lead while electing to stay out on the race track, and led 17 laps in the process. He came to pit road on lap 34, giving the race lead back to Kyle Busch.
Kyle Busch led the next 16 laps, en route to capturing his fourth stage win of 2017. Kevin Harvick followed in second, followed by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, and Jimmie Johnson.
The first stage was free of cautions.
Kyle Busch led the field to the green on lap 56.
On the restart, Clint Bowyer slapped the wall in Turn 3. Smoke came out from underneath the car and Bowyer brought the car to pit lane. He was able to return to the race track and finish in the 17th position.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s transmission went out on lap 59 and came to pit road under no power. He unofficially finished in the 38th position.
The yellow flag waved for the second time on lap 95. While running in the seventh position, Jimmie Johnson experienced a break failure and slammed into the Turn 1 safer barrier.
This was Johnson’s second DNF finish of the season.
Jamie McMurray also experienced a break failure and hit the Turn 1 wall while riding in the ninth position.
The red flag was displayed for twenty-three minutes on lap 97 for an extensive cleanup of the racetrack.
Kyle Larson led the field to the green flag on lap 99, and managed to keep the field in his rearview mirror as he crossed the finish line to claim his third stage victory of the season.
When the green flag waved again, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones led the field into Turn 1.
On lap 141, Kasey Kahne became the third Hendrick Motorsports team to experience a mechanical failure. Kahne had brake issues in Turn 1 and scraped the wall.
The leaders (except Kyle Busch) came down to pit road on lap 142 for tires and fuel. Erik Jones elected to take two tires, while everyone else took four.
Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski took the green flag on lap 147. Keselowski struggled on the restart, allowing Kyle Busch to escape from the field.
Ryan Blaney chased down and passed Kyle Busch on lap 150, but Kevin Harvick wouldn’t let the No. 21 Wood Brother’s Machine get too far ahead.
Kevin Harvick could only hope that Ryan Blaney would make a mistake, but that never happened.
Blaney was able to hold off a hard charging Kevin Harvick and capture his first career cup victory.
Now that Blaney has won a race, he discussed what goals are for the short-term.
“Win the next one,” Blaney said to The Racing Experts. “...We just want to go out and keep trying to win races.”
This win was Ryan Blaney’s first of his career and second top-10 finish at Pocono Raceway, joining the ranks of
This is the first victory for the Wood Brothers Racing since the 2011 Daytona 500, and second since 2001 at Bristol with Elliott Sadler.
Ryan Blaney currently sits 12th in points, 224 points behind leader Martin Truex Jr.
The yellow flag flew for four times, but twice times for incidents on track involving teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne from the Hendrick organization due to brake failures.