Blaney Close To A Win, Talladega Perfect Spot For It To Happen

A win is coming soon for Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney. He can feel it. Blaney, owns one of the best streaks in the NASCAR Cup Series right now as the driver of the No. 12 Ford has finished in the top four in five of the last six races.

“Very close,” Blaney said on how close he is to winning. “You keep bringing speed like this every weekend, eventually you’re going to find a little bit more and be able to win the race.

“We just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing. I think it’s going to come soon, we just got to keep working really hard. The way I look at it is, just keep running up towards the front like that, I think those things come.

Blaney, said following a third place finish at the Homestead-Miami Speedway last Sunday that they could be running 20th every week and that he’s proud of the runs that they’ve created and the speed they found.

“Just proud of the speed we have, that we’re close. Just little things will go a long way when you’re this close. If you have to find 15 spots worth of speed, that’s when it’s troublesome.”

Earlier in the year, Blaney had speed too. He should have scored three straight top two finishes to start the 2020 campaign off with. Unfortunately, a caution came out while he was running second in Vegas in the closing laps. His new crew chief this season, Todd Gordon, called him down pit lane for new tires. Blaney, can get past that because Gordon is giving him cars capable of winning every week and that they’ve worked really well together this season too.

“I feel like Todd and I have gotten along really well,” Blaney said. “We’ve communicated great. The only thing that really stands out to me, some races we don’t start off very good. Atlanta and Martinsville we didn’t start off very good, but at the end of the race we were very good. …

“To be able to communicate like that kind of in the early part of our relationship has been really nice. I look back at a lot of the … bad finishes we’ve had, of me wrecking in Bristol, tire coming apart at Fontana, the caution coming out in Vegas, we’ve had some really strong runs. That’s something to be proud of.

“It’s been a nice run we’ve been on here. I can’t wait to get that first win together here soon. The group deserves it.”

Now, it’s to the place he last tasted victory — Talladega. If anyone can win Sunday’s GEICO 500 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN), it’s Blaney.

He finished runner-up in the Daytona 500 back in February and obviously won the Fall race on the 2.66-mile Alabama superspeedway. Also, Penske has won two of the last four Spring races on the track and five of the last six in the Fall race.

Despite that, Blaney says that the momentum that he has now doesn’t guarantee success on Sunday.

“That’s just a whole other beast,” Blaney said. “We say it all the time: you get caught up in someone else’s stuff, it’s just part of it. As far as the momentum side, yeah, you feel good for sure, stringing together some decent runs. It’s hard to kind of carry that over to Talladega. You just never know what can happen.”

Also, there’s a shift in the rules package for the superspeedway cars this weekend.

Those changes include:

  • Elimination of aero ducts at superspeedway tracks.
  • Reduction in size of throttle body from 59/64” to 57/64” (superspeedways only).
  • Slip tape must be applied along the entire length of the lower rearward facing surfaces of the rear bumper cover and extension (superspeedways only).

The teams don’t get any practice time before, so it’s a guess on how these cars will race on Sunday afternoon.

“That was something that we talked about with NASCAR,” Blaney said of the runs drivers were getting with the old package. “The runs were gigantic. We get hooked up, that made your runs even bigger. There’s a fine line. You need the draft to work to where you get runs on cars, but not monstrous drafts where it’s dangerous to kind of block them and things like that. Hopefully we can find a fair in-between.”

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