Blaney battles for Kansas win: "That’s where this team deserves to be"

Ryan Blaney got exactly what he wanted Saturday night at Kansas Speedway – a chance at his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.

Blaney battles for Kansas win: "That’s where this team deserves to be"
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Start: Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford leads
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford

He didn’t win, but after struggling through the past three races with nothing better than a 33rd-place finish to show for it, the opportunity for his first Cup win was a welcome change.

“That’s where this team deserves to be, and that’s where they hopefully will stay,” Blaney said. “So, we keep bringing fast cars to the race track like that, you never know when maybe one might fall our way.”

Blaney won Stage 2 of Saturday night’s GoBowling.com 400 and his No. 21 Wood Brothers team repeatedly got him off pit road in the lead in Stage 3 thanks in part to a good pit stall that came with his first career pole.

As the race wound down, Blaney was able to hold off Martin Truex Jr. on short runs but finally lost the lead when Truex made a deft three-wide move on the next-to-last restart in the race.

Blaney ended up finishing fourth.

“We weren’t very good on the long run. I felt that we had a great short run car tonight and I thought that was going to play right into our hands at the end,” Blaney said after the race. “The No. 78 (Truex) got us on that restart somehow. I don’t know. I was super loose there on the last restarts and (Truex) got me spinning my tires a little bit.

“It kind of stinks. I think that it says a lot about this team to go out and lead some laps and go have a shot and win races.”

All about the restart

The final restart came in overtime and Blaney knew whoever got through Turn 2 was likely to win the race.

“We never even had a shot to race him through (Turn) 2. I felt like if we could have – our shot was maybe to be door-to-door with him through (Turns) 1 and 2 and try to get him loose, and if we cleared him, you never know,” Blaney said.

“He was pretty good. But it was really whoever got in front and got the lead at that point, and he was really fast in that little final stage. That was the deciding factor for sure.”

Disappointed without the victory, Blaney remained upbeat about his team’s ability to put a complete race together and remain in contention to the end.

“Of course we wanted to win, but at the same time, you look at the gains we made all weekend and really being fast all weekend, that puts us back to where we need to be for sure,” he said.

“It was nice to show our muscle this weekend and prove that this is where the No. 21 team deserves to be.”

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