Ryan Blaney and his father, NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney, discussed one particular point of emphasis before Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 125 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Pocono Raceway.
"We actually talked about restarts and choosing the right line," said 19-year-old Ryan, who grabbed the lead from rookie German Quiroga on a restart that began the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish and held on to win the fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race stage at the 2.5-mile triangular track.
"It was pretty funny that we were talking about restarts before the race, and that’s what it came down to."
Driving the No. 29 Ford owned by Brad Keselowski, Blaney, 19, beat Miguel Paludo to the finish line by .271 seconds to earn his first victory of the season, his first at Pocono and the second of his career in the Truck Series. Blaney gave Ford its first victory in the series since Colin Braun won at Michigan in a Roush Fenway Ford on June 13, 2009.
The runner-up finish was a career best for Paludo.
Quiroga, who lost three spots on the restart and regained one before the checkers, finished third, followed by Joey Coulter--last year’s Pocono winner--and Ross Chastain, Blaney’s teammate. Ron Hornaday Jr., Darrell Wallace Jr., series leader Matt Crafton, Brendan Gaughan and Brennan Newberry completed the top 10.
Newberry’s top 10 was his first in 21 Truck Series starts.
With a push from Paludo, Quiroga had taken the lead from Blaney on a restart on Lap 50. After the fourth and final caution of the race, Quiroga chose the inside lane for what turned out to be the final restart, and Blaney took command entering Turn 1.
"It’s hard to keep the lead on a restart if you’re the leader, but we were fortunate enough to be on the front row on that last restart and capitalized on it," Blaney said.
Quiroga, on the other hand, felt he had little chance to keep the lead when the race went green for the final time.
"Everybody that started first, they lost a lot of positions on every restart," said the rookie from Mexico City. "I would say (the inside lane) was a little bit better than starting on the outside. We just have to learn a little bit more."
After a spin by Ricky Ehrgott on the opening lap, the race was caution-free until Lap 42 of a scheduled 50, when NASCAR threw a yellow because of debris on the track.
Todd Bodine, driving in a one-race deal for Turner Motorsports, held the lead at the time, but during a scramble for the lead in Turn 1 after a Lap 47 restart, Bodine spun after contact from James Buescher’s Chevrolet to bring out the third caution.
Contact between the trucks of Ty Dillon and Johnny Sauter, as Dillon moved up the track believing he had a clear lane to the outside, caused the final caution on Lap 50 and extended the race four laps beyond its posted distance.
Crafton extended his series lead to 52 points over second-place Jeb Burton, who finished 12th Saturday. Blaney gained five spots in the standings to third, 62 points behind Crafton.