Needing a win to secure his spot in the Playoffs this season, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney revisits Michigan International Speedway with hopes of returning to Victory Lane this weekend and making it back-to-back victories at the two-mile facility. If Blaney wins this weekend, he will become the 11th different driver to win consecutive NASCAR Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway joining:
- Bobby Allison (1971 sweep),
- David Pearson (1972 sweep – 1973), (1974-1975),
- Cale Yarborough (1983 sweep),
- Bill Elliott (1985 sweep – 1986 sweep),
- Bobby Labonte (1995 sweep),
- Mark Martin (1997-1998),
- Ryan Newman (2003-2004),
- Greg Biffle (2004-2005), (2012-2013)
- Kyle Larson won three-straight at Michigan (2016-2017).
- Kevin Harvick (2019, 2020-1, 2020-2) – only driver to win in consecutive days at a single track.
The 28-year-old from High Point, North Carolina, Blaney, is currently ranked 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff outlook, 121 points ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick in 17th – the first spot outside the postseason cutoff. In 22 starts this season, Blaney has scored five stage wins, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
Last season, Blaney only led the final eight laps of the race after taking the lead on the final restart en route to his win. In total, Blaney has made 13 starts at the two-mile track, posting one win (2021), four top fives and six top 10s. His average finish at Michigan is 15.231 – 10th best among active drivers.
“The easiest but hardest thing to do is win, and I could stop talking about it, but we’ve been trying all year,” Blaney said Saturday morning before practice and qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. “Hopefully, we can get it done and not have to worry about it, but you just have to be in the back of your head of realizing that you’re still points racing Martin – we are – for the final (spot).
“You don’t want to be on the bubble if there’s no new winners, and obviously you want to try and win the race, so it’s a balancing act, especially the two road courses that we have (Indianapolis and Watkins Glen). Do you pit? Do you take the stage points to try to keep a good gap to the 19 (Truex), or if you think your car can win do you try to cycle to the lead?
“So, it’s kind of situational, I feel like. We talk about all these scenarios throughout the week and in our pre-race meetings, but at the end of the day, the main focus is trying to win the race and just doing all you can to try and make that one happen.”