Consecutive wins give Ryan Blaney 'a good shot' at Cup title

Two wins in the last two weeks have moved Ryan Blaney from NASCAR Cup Series playoff participant into a serious title contender.

Blaney’s back-to-back wins at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway – both coming with late-race passes for the lead – left him tied with Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman for the second-most wins in the regular season (three).

Most importantly, Blaney ended up with the No. 2 seed in the 16-driver playoffs, which begin with Sunday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Until his win Aug. 22 at Michigan, Blaney had one win from early in the season and appeared destined to enter the playoffs seeded in the middle of the pack or lower and with few playoff points to help him advance to the championship race.

In two weeks, Blaney still trails top-seed Kyle Larson by significant margin but is not on par with the likes of Truex, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Bowman – the other drivers in the playoffs with more than one win.

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry celebrates his win

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry celebrates his win

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

“It’s great that we’ve kind of really got a lot of playoff points here because that’s something that alluded me in my previous playoff runs, not a lot of playoff points when it comes to the end of the year,” Blaney, 27, said.

“It’s been really cool to capitalize on all this stuff. It’s what you need, that’s for sure.”

Todd Gordon, Blaney’s crew chief on the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, said the extra playoff points can make the difference between advancing or not through the playoff rounds.

“Last year we didn’t have that many bonus points going into the playoffs. We had a setback in the first race, then struggled through the second one. We didn’t make it out of the first round,” Gordon said.

“That’s been a focus for us, not only to make momentum but to get our points position where we can start off the playoffs where we want to.”

Charging into the playoffs

While his most recent victories have come on vastly different tracks, Blaney says he’s a big believer in momentum and couldn’t catch a wave of it at a better time.

“It’s good for confidence. Not only my self-confidence, but everyone on the team, it’s just huge,” Blaney said. “You can really have good momentum. Momentum is a huge thing in sports especially.

“Confidence is big in not only motorsports but sports and life. If you have confidence in yourself, you can achieve something. You know what your goal is, go out there and do the best you can and achieve it – that really helps you out.

“Three wins on the year and you hope to keep that going throughout the playoffs and keep transferring and try to make it to Phoenix and have a shot at a championship. So, it has been a fun year and it has been nice to end the regular season out this way and start off Darlington this weekend with a bunch of momentum and our heads held high.”

Even prior to the victories the last two weeks, Blaney said he believed his No. 12 team has shown the ability to compete with the best this season, even if they’ve allowed some chances at wins slip away.

What the last two weeks have shown, is when the No. 12 team is hitting on all cylinders, it can compete with anyone else in the Cup Series.

“I just think this team is so good, they can do it. If they really perform to the best of their abilities, and I do as well, I think we have a good shot at (winning the championship),” he said.

“Capitalizing on opportunities, that’s what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks, putting ourselves in positions to win races. That’s what this team does a really good job at.”

Blaney’s back-to-back wins at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway – both coming with late-race passes for the lead – left him tied with Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman for the second-most wins in the regular season (three).

Most importantly, Blaney ended up with the No. 2 seed in the 16-driver playoffs, which begin with Sunday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Until his win Aug. 22 at Michigan, Blaney had one win from early in the season and appeared destined to enter the playoffs seeded in the middle of the pack or lower and with few playoff points to help him advance to the championship race.

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor, Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Fifth Third Bank, Corey LaJoie, Spire Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Built bar

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor, Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Fifth Third Bank, Corey LaJoie, Spire Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Built bar

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

In two weeks, Blaney still trails top-seed Kyle Larson by significant margin but is not on par with the likes of Truex, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Bowman – the other drivers in the playoffs with more than one win.

“It’s great that we’ve kind of really got a lot of playoff points here because that’s something that alluded me in my previous playoff runs, not a lot of playoff points when it comes to the end of the year,” Blaney, 27, said.

“It’s been really cool to capitalize on all this stuff. It’s what you need, that’s for sure.”

Todd Gordon, Blaney’s crew chief on the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, said the extra playoff points can make the difference between advancing or not through the playoff rounds.

“Last year we didn’t have that many bonus points going into the playoffs. We had a setback in the first race, then struggled through the second one. We didn’t make it out of the first round,” Gordon said.

“That’s been a focus for us, not only to make momentum but to get our points position where we can start off the playoffs where we want to.”

While his most recent victories have come on vastly different tracks, Blaney says he’s a big believer in momentum and couldn’t catch a wave of it at a better time.

“It’s good for confidence. Not only my self-confidence, but everyone on the team, it’s just huge,” Blaney said. “You can really have good momentum. Momentum is a huge thing in sports especially.

“Confidence is big in not only motorsports but sports and life. If you have confidence in yourself, you can achieve something. You know what your goal is, go out there and do the best you can and achieve it – that really helps you out.

“Three wins on the year and you hope to keep that going throughout the playoffs and keep transferring and try to make it to Phoenix and have a shot at a championship. So, it has been a fun year and it has been nice to end the regular season out this way and start off Darlington this weekend with a bunch of momentum and our heads held high.”

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

Even prior to the victories the last two weeks, Blaney said he believed his No. 12 team has shown the ability to compete with the best this season, even if they’ve allowed some chances at wins slip away.

What the last two weeks have shown, is when the No. 12 team is hitting on all cylinders, it can compete with anyone else in the Cup Series.

“I just think this team is so good, they can do it. If they really perform to the best of their abilities, and I do as well, I think we have a good shot at (winning the championship),” he said.

“Capitalizing on opportunities, that’s what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks, putting ourselves in positions to win races. That’s what this team does a really good job at.”

shares
comments

Related video

NASCAR's largest Next Gen car test to date set for Daytona
Previous article

NASCAR's largest Next Gen car test to date set for Daytona

Next article

Kyle Larson relishes his position after 'crazy couple years'

Kyle Larson relishes his position after 'crazy couple years'
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021