Ryan Blaney passed former champion Kyle Busch with nine laps to go and held off former champion Kevin Harvick to capture his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this afternoon on Pocono Raceway’s Tricky Triangle behind the wheel of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion.
Blaney and his determined Wood Brothers Racing teammates, celebrating their 99th career win, overcame a loose wheel after their first pit stop and a lack of two-way radio communications throughout the day to get the Woods’ historic No. 21 into Victory Lane for the first time since the 2011 Daytona 500.
The second-year driver and the 18th to win for Wood Brothers Racing talked about dueling with Busch and Harvick in the final 10 laps of the Axalta Presents the Pocono 400.
“Kyle stayed out and he was on a little bit older tires and it looked like he was getting pretty tight, especially off of one and that’s where new tires really seemed to come alive because you could hold the line and get runs on him, downshift and get next to him,” Blaney said after climbing out of his classic red-and-white racer. “I had a big run on him off of three and he did a good job blocking, and we were able to get under him, but then I had to hold the 4 off. He was super-fast. I can’t thank Kevin enough for racing me clean. That was really cool of him, but it was definitely hectic. Hopefully the fans liked it. It was really cool.”
How did he manage to hold off the hard-charging Harvick?
“Just not mess up,” Blaney said. “He was a little bit better than us all day and then we obviously had clean air, which is king at a lot of places, especially here, and he was able to get to us but not get a run on us. We kind of stalled him out and I just had to hit our marks and not mess up. That was the biggest thing was to hold the line. If I could do that, I knew I had a good shot at holding him off. That’s what kind of went through my mind.”
The win clinches a berth in the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs for Blaney, who started the weekend 13th in the driver standings.
“I think it exceeds the dream a little bit,” Blaney said of his first Cup victory. “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.”
The win is the third for Motorcraft during its long association with the Wood Brothers.
“All of us at Ford Customer Service Division congratulate Ryan on his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory today at Pocono,” said Brett Wheatley, executive director of North America, Ford Customer Service Division. “We couldn’t be more excited that this milestone moment in his career came while behind the wheel of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane.
“We’ve known for a long time that Ryan is a NASCAR star on the rise and we’re sure this is the first of many trips to Victory Circle that Ryan will make during a long and successful career,” Wheatley continued. “We also congratulate Wood Brothers Racing on its 99th career victory. Our association with NASCAR’s most historic team has been fruitful both on and off the track and we look forward to celebrating many more wins in the future.”
Also celebrating Blaney’s win at Pocono are the fans who were in attendance at Sharon Speedway in Ohio last night. As part of its sponsorship of the dirt track’s Fan Appreciation Night, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing offered fans a free “The Works” oil change package at participating Ford or Lincoln dealership or Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center should Blaney win today in Pocono.
The next stop on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit is Michigan International Speedway the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday, June 18, at 3 p.m. on FS1. Ford’s newest, all-makes, all-models parts brand, Omnicraft, will be the primary sponsor at MIS.
Ford Performance PR