Blaney Scores First NXS Charlotte Win
CONCORD, N.C— After multiple restarts in the final 20 laps, Ryan Blaney scored his first win of 2017 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Hisense 4K TV 300.
“It was really tough. We kept having tons and tons of cautions,” Blaney said. “We lost the lead on a pit stop when we kind of got blocked in and I wasn’t sure I was going to get a shot at it. It worked out where we could put ourselves in position to get the win and we capitalized on it. Everybody did a great job.”
This is Blaney’s first win since September of 2015 at Kentucky Speedway. This is his fifth victory 56 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, and his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Blaney and his father, Dave, are the first father-son duo to win at Charlotte.
Blaney was able to hold of Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick on a late race restart with four laps remaining. Blaney worked his way towards the front of the field after starting in the rear due to unapproved adjustments after the car was impounded after qualifying.
Harvick finished second in the race after not being able to receive any help on the final restart by Blaney and Brad Keselowski. This is Harvick’s 18th top-10 finish in 28 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and his third top-10 of 2017.
“If I could do (the final restart) again I would probably do it differently. I felt like the 12 (Blaney) had the best car on restarts. He was the one who helped us get the lead. Just wasn’t able to get going through one and two. I needed to be clear by the time I got to three and four. I hadn’t been taking the top but I felt if the 12 and 22 got paired up on the top, I would be in double trouble,” said Harvick. I had a heck of a time today. All in all, I just got beat there by the 12. He did a good job all day there on the restarts. I’m really proud of everybody on the team. We ran well and led a bunch of laps.”
Dillon finished in the third position in the race following having to go to the rear after an initial start violation in the opening laps. Dillon dropped to the rear, but was able to work his way to the third position by race end. This was Dillon’s sixth top-10 finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We did a really good job. Our Chevy really came to us. I hate it for our pit crew there. I messed up on the start. There at the end, I had a Penske sandwich. I couldn’t do much about it. I got hit on the restart but it wasn’t enough to carry me to the front. We had a lot of fun today,” said Dillon. “The track changed and we are trying to figure out what we need here. We’re getting closer.”
Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Cole Custer, Brennan Poole, Brendan Gaughan, and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-10 in Saturday afternoon’s event.
The race was slowed 12 times for 52 laps by caution. There were 12 lead changes among seven drivers with leading the most laps at . The average speed of the race was 113.720 mph. The time of the race was two hours, 38 minutes, and 17 seconds. Blaney beat Harvick by 0.244 seconds,
Elliott Sadler remains the point leader after his 35th place finish by six points over teammate Justin Allgaier, 57 points over William Byron, 79 points over Daniel Hemric, and 83 points over fifth place driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.
Next up for the Xfinity Series is the OneMain Financial 200, a Dash4Cash event, from Dover International Raceway. The race will be broadcasted on Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1 on June 3rd at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Bowyer, Blaney, Suarez Win Open Stages; Elliott Fan Vote Winner
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.
Drivers Assess First Quarter of 2017
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.
William Byron Dominates Truck Series Race in Pocono
Byron was over a tenth of a second faster than the field throughout the weekend, as he was quickest in practice on Friday. When qualifying was rained out, he was awarded the pole due to his speed in practice.
With 11 restarts, on 10 caution flags, a track-high, Byron has to outlast the competition and not allow them to get big runs on the restarts. More times than not, he would be over one second ahead of second-place after the first green flag lap was complete.
"I don't get too far ahead of what our goals are, but that was definitely a goal, I can't lie about that," Byron said of setting the record for wins by a rookie driver in the Truck Series. " I knew that was something to beat. We just show up with so much focus and we never get off track. It's just a credit to where we are as a race team t the work were doing with the trucks and were putting it all together when we get to the race track. I love this race track and I think it's a pretty neat place and I think you have to be in love with the race track to have success at the track."
Cameron Hayley was the best of the rest, as he recorded a season-best second-place finish. In two career races at Pocono, the No. 13 truck has finished among the top five.
"Last year I got beat by Cup drivers and I felt like I could have won if there were no Cup drivers, now you've got William Byron that is super fast and I got beat again," Hayley said of his second-place finish. "I wish we could have sealed the deal, but I have two top fives in my two starts here. I don't know what it is about this track that I like, maybe it's more suited toward a road course and I love road course racing."
Brett Moffitt, replacing Matt Tifft at Red Horse Racing finished third after spending much of the day inside the top five. With no other races on his 2016 schedule, he hopes this performance sticks out on owners minds so that he can get off the couch for the remainder of the season.
"It feels good for myself," Moffitt said of the finish. "I think this will open some eyes with no other races on my schedule, hopefully it will make me a little bit busier in the second half of the summer. All in all, the guys at Red Horse did a really good job. It feels really good."
Leading four laps, Timothy Peters finished fourth at Pocono. Cole Custer rounded out the top five, after spinning in the Tunnel Turn on Lap 11.
Rico Abreu finished sixth, marking his second-consecutive top-10 finish. Ben Kennedy came home seventh, with Johnny Sauter was eighth, John Hunter Nemechek finished ninth and Christopher Bell rounded out the top 10.
Bell set a record of five free passes, to get back on the lead lap after he was involved in an incident with John Wes Townley during the third caution of the afternoon. In the final five laps, Bell raced from 23rd to 10th.
For Brad Keselowski Racing, Chase implications took a turn on Lap 27 when Daniel Hemric spun in Turn 1, collecting Tyler Reddick. The No. 29 truck fell from the Chase bubble to 10th on the grid, one point off the pace.
The Truck Series will have two weeks off prior to returning to the race track August 17, where Ryan Blaney is the defending winner for Brad Keselowski Racing.
Austin Dillon Tops the Speed Chart in Final Practice at Michigan
Michigan is Dillon's "favorite racetrack." The last time the Cup Series sped around the 2.0-mile oval, the No. 3 car was out front for 19 laps after starting in the back and picking up a fourth-place finish.
Brad Keselowski, hometown driver, was second on the leader board in the final session at 194.013 mph. He has never recorded a victory at his home track.
Jimmie Johnson was third on the board at 193.851 mph. Trevor Bayne led Roush Fenway Racing in fourth at 193.778 mph and Pocono winner, Kurt Busch completed the top five at 193.741 mph.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Martin Truex, Jr. Kyle Larson, pole-sitter Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 10.
Ryan Blaney was the fastest rookie on Saturday, while his nemesis, Chase Elliott was 21st on speed, running 47 laps, the most of all drivers. The 20-year-old got into the wall with about 10 minutes remaining, scuffing up the right rear of the car. The No. 24 car got back out on track to complete more laps.
After posting the fastest time in opening practice Saturday morning, Carl Edwards was mired down in 17th at 192.947 mph. 3All four of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars were outside the top 10 with Denny Hamlin leading the train of drivers in 11th.
38 cars took time in Happy Hour. Truex led the way on best 10 lap averages at 191.991 mph. He had a pair of third-place finishes last season at Michigan.
The 400-mile race is scheduled to begin shortly after 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. Last year, Busch was victorious in a rain-shortened event.