Abril 26, 2018

Ryan Blaney makes late push at Pocono, earns first career win

19 Junio 2017, 02:49 | Gerardo Tarin

Ryan Blaney takes the checkered flag to win the Pocono 400 Sunday in Long Pond Pa. Matt Slocum — The Associated Press

Ryan Blaney takes the checkered flag to win the Pocono 400 Sunday in Long Pond Pa

Blaney took the lead from Kyle Busch with nine laps remaining in the 160-lap race.

Wood Brothers Racing driver Ryan Blaney scored his maiden NASCAR Cup victory at Pocono after beating Kevin Harvick.

Blaney became the circuit's 10th different victor in 14 races this season and put him in NASCAR's 16-driver playoffs.

Kyle Busch led most of the race here at Pocono Raceway, but with under 10 laps to go, it was Ryan Blaney in the number 21 vehicle taking the lead and holding off Kevin Harvick for his first-ever Cup series win right here at Pocono Raceway and it's the first win for the Wood Brothers since 2011.

Graham Rahal, the defending Texas victor who last weekend won both races in Detroit, will start 11th at the 1 1/2-mile Texas track.

Blaney's victory leaves Joe Gibbs Racing still searching for its first win of the season. You can bet Busch will be ramped up to win this weekend, not that he isn't always.

He had interviewed Xfinity victor Brad Keselowski in victory lane Saturday as part of an all-driver broadcast by Fox.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion in 2015, he ran a full Xfinity Series schedule past year and seemed destined for that second-tier circuit in 2017 until Denver-based Furniture Row snapped him up when it added a second auto to the team that includes Martin Truex the No. 78 Toyota. "He never slipped up off the bottom, so I just didn't have enough laps to finish that last pass off. Ryan did a good job of not slipping a wheel with the amount of laps that he had left and was able to hold on".

At times, it looked as if it might not happen.

Blaney ran second to Kyle Busch throughout much of the third stage of the race.

"I think it exceeds the dream a little bit", Blaney said. "Door is tight, roof was loose, thumb up, thumb down if it was good or not or keyed the mic - because they could hear the mic key".

So, they resorted to hand signals the rest of the race.

If Blaney's vehicle handled tight, he would place his hand on the door. Hand on the roof meant it was loose. Obviously, I was pretty content with where we were running. In consecutive races leading into Pocono, a broken rear axle snuffed out potential strong finishes. That was about three-tenths of a second faster than Formula One points leader Sebastien Vettel in his Ferrari.

But on the final restart after a Lap 142 caution Truex came out of the pits fifth. He was on older tires. Harvick cut into the deficit, though, over the course of the remainder of the first stage, closing to within two seconds by lap 50.

"Yeah, we ran him down".

"We unloaded with some pretty decent speed right off the truck", Kyle Busch said.

Blaney kept fellow driver and TV partner Kevin Harvick behind him to steal a win out from under polesitter Kyle Busch, thus making his first ever trip to Victory Lane.

As Busch fell back, Harvick became Blaney's biggest challenger. Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson each own three victories here, while Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. each have two checkered flags in Long Pond. "Having a little Goldfish", Stenhouse said. We kind of stalled him out, and I just had to hit our marks and not mess up. That was really cool of him, but it was definitely hectic.

NASCAR says Wallace will join at least seven other black drivers in its 69-year history who reached the Cup level: Elias Bowie, Charlie Scott, Wendell Scott, George Wiltshire, Randy Bethea, Willy T. Ribbs and Bill Lester.

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