After having radio issues for majority of the day, Ryan Blaney scored his first career victory at Pocono Raceway in the Axalta Presents The Poconos 400.

 

“I think it exceeds the dream a little bit.  I grew up watching my dad race on this race track and it’s so cool to get the Wood Brothers in victory lane, number one, and to do it here at a race track that is really close to Ohio – a home to me – is pretty awesome,” said Blaney.

 

This is the Wood Brothers first victory since the 2011 Daytona 500. Blaney becomes the seventh different driver to score his first career victory with the Wood Brothers. This weekend marks the 99th victory for the team.

 

With 10 laps remaining, Blaney had a charge on then race-winner, Kyle Busch, with fresher tires. Busch tried to block Blaney on the front stretch and on the short-stretch, but Blaney was able to pass Busch. While Blaney and Busch were battling for the lead, Kevin Harvick was able to work his way to Blaney, but was unable to pass him in the remaining laps. Harvick was better than Blaney in the second turn, but was no match for Blaney on the rest of the track.

 

 

After having brake and engine issues early on in the race, Harvick was able to finish the race in the second position.

 

“I missed a shift from third-to-second and I have to thank the Roush Yates Engine shop for building a pretty sturdy engine because it should have blown up and it never blowed up,” said Harvick after rallying for a second place finish to winner Ryan Blaney,” said Harvick. “I had a tough time driving in the corner all day. We never could stop like we needed to all weekend, so you just had to be really careful with the brakes. If I'd over-drive it for a lap or two, the pedal would start going down, and then I was really at a deficit. So, I had to be very aware of where I let off every lap.”

 

 

After running up front for majority of the race, Erik Jones was able to finish in the third position for his best career Cup finish.

 

“Just happy, happy that we finally get a finish that we deserve. We ran top-five most of the day and had good strategy and it worked out. The last restart played out right into our hands and got it during the third (stage) and knew we had to hold those guys off and we’d be just fine,” said E. Jones. “It’s exciting, happy we had a fast race car. Wish we had a little bit faster one and then we could have gone up there and raced for it, but definitely a good day for us.”

 

Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Ky. Busch, and Matt Kenseth rounded-out the top-10.

 

Truex Jr maintains the points lead by one point over Larson. Harvick is 144 points behind Truex in third, Ky. Busch is 121 points behind the leader. and Keselowski rounds out the top-five in points only 130 points behind Truex.

 

Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a trip to Michigan International Raceway for the FireKeepers Casino 400. The race will run on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network with green flag flying shortly after 3:00 p.m. EDT.

CONCORD, N.C— Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, and Daniel Suarez will transfer into the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway based on their victories in the stages.

 

After starting from the pole position, Bowyer led all 20 laps in the opening stage. He had a 3.653 second lead over Blaney at the start-finish line.

 

In the second stage, Blaney led the field to the green to led all 20 laps. Blaney beat Chase Elliott by 0.203 seconds.

 

In the final 10 lap stage, Landon Cassill was the race leader, but was punted by Elliott before the first turn. Daniel Suarez assumed the race lead, but Elliott was pass Suarez with four laps remaining. The caution flew as Erik Jones went through the grass in an effort to pass Suarez and Elliott. Suarez won the final stage by 1.039 seconds over Austin Dillon

 

The winner of the fan vote was Chase Elliott.

 

The Monster Energy All-Star Race is set to go green shortly after 8:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.

TALLADEGA, Al.— As the first quarter of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season came to a close last week at Richmond, drivers begin to assess their seasons and where they would like to improve on throughout the rest of the season.

The first nine races of the season have seen encumbered wins and side-by-side racing. Seven different drivers have made their way to victory lane this season, while Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson have made their way into victory lane twice. Three short track, one restrictor plate event, and five different tracks have encompassed the first quarter of the season.

Some teams have struggled while some teams have flourished with the new aero packages, while some teams have excelled in stage racing.

Kyle Larson leads the points standing by 40 points over Martin Truex Jr, 52 points over Chase Elliott, 71 points over Brad Keselowski (pending points penalty from Phoenix), and Joey Logano sits 90 points out of the lead following his encumbered win at Richmond.

In his first season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Erik Jones has made a name for himself in the top series. He currently has one top-10 finish this season.

“I wish through the first part of the season we would have just had more results. I think we've ran a lot better than what we've really finished, which is disappointing and unfortunate in a way. But knowing that we showed up at the race every week ‑‑ I can only point at a couple races where I didn't really feel like we should have ran in the top 10, just circumstances, and the way these races have kind of played out, at the end of the them, it just hasn't been in the cards for us,” said Jones.

When asked how he would like to improve on the season, Jones stated, “I think beyond that as the season goes on, we just want to keep working on executing better at the end of the races, getting these finishes and running up front and honestly feel like we keep bringing these fast race cars to the track, one of these weeks it's just going to kind of click for us, and we're just going to be running up front and have a good shot at the win. I thought Bristol was kind of going to be that day, but it seems as things have gone, we just haven't had the tides been falling in our favor."

Although he received an encumbered penalty after his win last weekend at Richmond, Logano is impressed with how his season as gone.

“For us as the 22 team, we were able to kick off the season great with the win at The Clash.  That was nice, and since then we’ve had decent speed in our cars.  At the beginning part of the year we didn’t execute perfectly during the race, so we didn’t get many stage points, but we were able to recover and get a lot of top 5s and top 10s so far this year.  Our average finish is great.  I think last week to get through and win the race is a nice thing,” said Logano, “Obviously, this is a little bit of a setback, so I think in general we’re doing a good job.  I think we’ve cleaned up the mistakes that we had earlier in the year to where now we’re running as well as we should during the event, which is gonna help us score stage points because we all know how big that is right now and it will be forever.  I think the fact that we cleaned up our races a little bit, that’s a big deal, and our speed is still really well.  We have good speed in our cars, so those wins will start clicking off is good.  I feel happy with where we’re at.  I think we have an average finish of around sixth and seventh with the blown right-front at Phoenix and a thirtysomething finish there, so I’m proud of the way we’ve handled the situations this year and the finishes we’ve been getting and the way we’ve been recovering I think that’s an A-plus, and I think we’ve cleaned up to where we don’t have to recover as much, hopefully, here in the future.”

For Ryan Blaney, the season has been filled with ups and downs. He assessed his second season with the Wood Brothers:

“We started off the year really strong. I feel like we didn’t get good finishes the first six or seven races. We had really good cars where things happened and we didn’t get the finish we deserved. I’d say our season started off really strong. The past two weeks have been kind of rough on us. Bristol was a shame. We were really fast and had that power-steering issue and had to ride around there for 300 laps to the end of the race. Richmond, I actually salvaged a really good finish out of that after not being good all day…running 18th all day. I think we drove up to eighth and got the car better, and then Kurt (Busch) wrecked us. I feel like those are the things that we need to do if we don’t run well the first three-quarters of the race, keep working on our car and finish well,” said Blaney. “That’s what we did last week, and I feel like we didn’t have that last year. If we ran bad last year, the first portion of the race we stayed there all day, so this year I feel like we’ve gotten better with that. I’m pretty happy how the Woods Brothers team is running now and where our performance is. It’s just a matter of getting back on track and getting the finishes that we deserve. I feel like there are some really good race tracks that we can definitely capitalize on.”

Consistency in second place, a win at Auto Club, and during the stages was key. Here is how Larson rated his first quarter:

“It’s been good.  We had three consecutive second place finishes that led to the win and then we got another second-place finish after that.  Four second place finishes and a win to start, I think our average finish is like basically sixth.  It’s been a solid start to the year we’ve just got to keep working hard.  It’s a really long season.  Teams get better and worse throughout the year, so we’ve just got to continue to dig deep and build on what we have right now to get better and hopefully challenge for some more wins,” said Larson.

Chase Elliott has not had the first quarter he would like, it has been full of ups and downs.

“I think we’ve had some ups and downs. I feel like we fired off really well with the way we ran at Daytona and Atlanta. I thought our West Coast swing was pretty strong. I feel like over the past few weeks we really haven’t performed up to our potential. As a group, I think anybody in our group would feel the same way. We’ve had some fast cars at times. We’ve had our driving good and then other weeks, not so much,” said Elliott. “But, we definitely need to execute races; even on the days that your car is not driving like you want it to. That execution and doing everything correctly on pit road, restarts, giving the right information, can turn a bad day into a pretty good day, really. Like last week, for instance, we ran not very good and just inside the 15th; not quite inside the top 10 the majority of the day. We got towards the end of the day and had an opportunity to finish up well inside the top 10 if we had just executed a little bit better. So, that’s what we need to do. And we know we need to do that. And, we’ll try to make that happen.”

Although he won the Daytona 500 this year, Kurt Busch has had a season of ups and downs highlighted by alternator issues.

“For us on the 41 car, we’ve almost gotten a top 10 at half the races so far.  This will be our 10th race, so if we get a top 10 this weekend that means we’ve been in the top 10 half the time.  We had a couple alternator bugs and issues that we had to work through on the west coast trip.  We missed the setup at Fontana.  Martinsville was better this time around, we just didn’t seal the deal.  We got caught up in a wreck there,” said Busch. “Overall, when you win the Daytona 500 it can carry you for a lifetime.  It can carry you for a season and so for the first 10 races, we’ve had a great deal of success and we’re very happy about that with our Ford, with Haas, with Monster and for everybody on the team.  Ring-sizing was this week at Stewart-Haas Racing for everybody to get their ring sizes measured up to get a Daytona 500 championship ring, so it’s been pretty special so far to start the year.”

Although the first quarter is a basis for many teams, there are still many more opportunities in 2017 to improve and stay consistent.

Ryan Blaney finished sixth on Sunday in Las Vegas, the highest he’s ever finished on a 1.5-mile racetrack. Consistent could describe the youngster’s weekend as he was hardly outside of the top 15 in the race.

Blaney’s day started alongside fellow Rookie of the Year competitor, Chase Elliott in the 14th position. For the majority of the 400-mile event the No. 21 car remained inside of the top 10, falling out after a mixture of pit strategy with 53 laps to go.  

After restarting 11th Blaney quickly surged to just outside of the top five, resulting in one of the best finishes of his young career.

“We had a great car all day,” Blaney said. “We were toward the front most of the day. We were so good at the end of long runs. We would give up a little on short runs, but we were so fast at the end.”

To a degree, Blaney’s car matched what eventual race-winner Brad Keselowski’s car would do. At the start of a run the car would struggle, but by the time 40 laps went he was able to gain all of those positions back.

With the technical alliance with Team Penske, all three Penske-affiliated cars finished inside of the top six. This also marks the best finish by a rookie this season, beating Elliott’s previous record of eighth at Atlanta.

The 22-year-old believes that this could help the team going forward and be a boost to the team morale as the season progresses.

“We took two [tires] at the end and that helped us, got us a little bit of track position.," Blaney said. "It was just a good day to forget about Atlanta last week, that was a rough one for us. Hopefully this is a good momentum builder."

As the Cup Series heads to Phoenix Blaney sits 14th in the point standings, just seven points ahead of the cutoff position. But with finishes of 19th and 25th to start the season this was exactly what The Wood Brothers needed to build upon in its first full-time season back in NASCAR’s elite division.

The Blaney name will live on in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Veteran racer Dave Blaney is all but done with racing in NASCAR’s top-tier division, but his son is just getting started.

Ryan Blaney, 20, will run 18 races in the Cup Series this year with the legendary Wood Brothers Racing. Driving the No. 21 car, pressure is escalating for the son of the “Buckeye Bullet.” Besides competing for the Wood Brothers, he will also race for Team Penske in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for the majority of the season.

But before he steps foot in a Team Penske car for the fourth straight season, the young Blaney is set to race in NASCAR’s biggest race – the Daytona 500.

During the twin Budweiser Duel 150 qualifiers, pressure was on for the majority of the field to earn a spot in the “500.” NASCAR’s oldest team continued to show they are still worth while on Thursday evening in the second Duel.

Racing inside of the top 10 throughout the 60-lap event, Blaney was able to earn a starting position in the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career. Finishing in seventh place, the North Carolina native is set to embark on the beginning of his new journey.

“We were really smooth on pit road the one time we came down and that’s all we can really ask for is to try to control the things we control – no mistakes on pit road, and everything else is kind of up in the air,” Blaney said following the race. “You never know if you’re gonna get caught up in a wreck. Luckily, we were ahead of those incidents tonight and didn’t get caught up in a wreck like some other guys did, and just fortunate to be in the spot we were at. 

“There were a couple opportunities I really, really wanted to drive hard and go for a win and we had opportunities to do that, but, like I said, the main point was to transfer tonight and that’s what we did.  Everyone did a great job and it’s just cool to be with the Wood Brothers and say we’re racing Sunday.  I try not to get too worked up before races and I try to play it cool before I sat in the car and then you get nervous turning pace laps.” 

Starting 12th in the Daytona 500, he has high expectations. His predecessor, Trevor Bayne, was victorious in his Daytona 500 debut with the Wood Brothers in 2011.

This year, the Wood Brothers have begun an alliance with Team Penske. Previously, it had a partnership with Roush Fenway Racing. But following Bayne’s move to Roush full-time this season, it has swapped over to the organization that has put Blaney’s name on the map. 

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