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Blaney, Wood Brothers Triangulate In On Victory

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 11 2017

Ryan Blaney drove the iconic No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford to victory at Pocono on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Ashley R Dickerson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Ryan Blaney, driving the historic No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, took the lead from former champion Kyle Busch with 10 laps to go, held off another Cup champion in Kevin Harvick over the final eight laps and went on to win Sunday’s  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.

The victory was the first of Blaney’s Cup career and it came in his 68th start. His margin of victory over Stewart-Haas Racing’s Harvick was .13 seconds.

“It’s hard for me to process,” Blaney said in Victory Lane. “First we had to pass Kyle and that was tough, he was on old tires and he was struggling and we were able to get him and then we had to hold Kevin off and he was real fast and I just didn’t want to make a mistake.”

The win was the 99th for the iconic Wood Brothers, who won races in the No. 21 with such drivers as Hall of Famers David Pearson, Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough  and Junior Johnson.

The Wood Brothers have won at least one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in each of the last six decades.

“There at the end, we couldn’t get into the corner like we needed to,” Harvick said. “He (Blandy) could charge the corner. So I needed him to make a mistake and try to get up underneath him at the exit of the corner but he never made a mistake and did a great job and won the race.”

Ryan Blaney became a Cup Series winner on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

Rookie Erik Jones of Furniture Row Racing finished third. It the rookie’s best finish of the season.

“Just happy,” he said, “happy that we finally get a finish that we deserve. We ran top-five most of the day and had good strategy and it worked out. The last restart played out right into our hands and got it during the third (stage) and knew we had to hold those guys off and we’d be just fine. It’s exciting, happy we had a fast race car. Wish we had a little bit faster one and then we could have gone up there and raced for it, but definitely a good day for us.”

SHR’s Kurt Busch was fourth and Brad Keselowski of Team Penske was fifth.

Kyle Busch won the first stage of the race while Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing won the second.

Kyle Busch had a 7.6-second lead over a second-place and charging Martin Truex Jr. in the final stage when, with 19 laps to go, the caution flag waved as Kasey Kahne hit the wall.

Kyle Busch, with Ben Beshore substituting as his crew chief, didn’t pit but most of those behind him did and those teams all took fresh tires.

Restarting second with 13 laps to go at the 2.5-mile Pocono triangle was Keselowski who was pitting out of squence, had pitted just two laps before the caution and, hence, stayed out as well.  Jones, Blaney, Truex and Harvick restarted third through sixth.

On the restart, Blaney moved into second and began to close on Busch. With 10 to go, Blaney moved to the lead on his fresher tires.

Also blowing past Busch, who led 100 laps, was Harvick who quickly found Blaney’s rear bumper but could not get past his front bumper.

The race was not a good one for Hendrick Motorsports top drivers as Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew and engine after missing a gear shift and Jimmie Johnson crashed hard into an outside wall.

“Just something in my motion,” Earnhardt said. “I mean there really isn’t anything different.  The shifter is not different, the handle is not different, the location, everything is the same.  I don’t know. It’s something about my motion that’s not… going in the wrong gear.  I wish I could blame it on something else, because this is awful, it feels awful.”

Johnson’s wreck occurred because of a brake failure on Lap 95. His car, traveling at 200 mph, slammed the wall hard. After getting out, Johnson had to sit on the track to collect himself.

“It (his brake pedal) went right to the floor and I saw a replay inside the medical center,” the seven-time champion said. “The smoke, I think, is the brake fluid coming out of wherever failed and onto the rotors.  I can only speculate that I got the brakes too hot and when I went to the brakes they just traveled straight to the floor.  I didn’t even have a pedal to push on. At that point, I threw it in third gear and I was just trying to slow it down.  I was heading to the grass and I was wondering why I didn’t turn right and get to the wall sooner, but I’m fine.  Certainly, a big scare.  I haven’t had a scare like that since 2000 at Watkins Glen.  So, just want to let my wife and kids and my mom know that I’m okay and I will go change my underwear and get ready to go home.”

On the same lap and just behind Johnson, the Ganassi car of Jamie McMurray also suffered a brake failure and hit the wall. His car burst into flames as it rolled to a stop.

“I don’t know if I got into some oil or what happened,” McMurray said, “but I just started spinning and didn’t have any brakes.  So, it was really weird that we kind of both had the same thing happen at the same point on the racetrack, but fortunately, we are both OK and yeah, move on.”

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Axalta presents the Pocono 400

Pocono Raceway

Long Pond, Pennsylvania

Sunday, June 11, 2017

  1. (4) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 160.
  2. (12) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 160.
  3. (15) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 160.
  4. (5) Kurt Busch, Ford, 160.
  5. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 160.
  6. (2) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 160.
  7. (7) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 160.
  8. (25) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 160.
  9. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 160.
  10. (3) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 160.
  11. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 160.
  12. (18) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 160.
  13. (17) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 160.
  14. (10) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 160.
  15. (14) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 160.
  16. (24) Danica Patrick, Ford, 160.
  17. (20) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 160.
  18. (27) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 160.
  19. (29) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 160.
  20. (13) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 160.
  21. (22) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 160.
  22. (21) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 160.
  23. (9) Joey Logano, Ford, 160.
  24. (11) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 160.
  25. (31) David Ragan, Ford, 159.
  26. (16) Darrell Wallace Jr.(i), Ford, 159.
  27. (34) Landon Cassill, Ford, 158.
  28. (35) * Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, 157.
  29. (33) Gray Gaulding #, Toyota, 156.
  30. (32) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, Engine, 155.
  31. (36) Reed Sorenson, Toyota, 154.
  32. (30) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, Drive Shaft, 153.
  33. (39) * Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 153.
  34. (37) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Brakes, 146.
  35. (26) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 140.
  36. (19) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Accident, 95.
  37. (8) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, Accident, 95.
  38. (28) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, Engine, 58.
  39. (38) * Cody Ware, Chevrolet, Vibration, 35.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  142.292 mph.

Time of Race:  02 Hrs, 48 Mins, 40 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.139 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 18 laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   Kyle Busch 1-17; E. Jones # 18-34; Kyle Busch 35-53; R. Stenhouse Jr. 54-56; E. Jones # 57-59; Kyle Busch 60-90; D. Hamlin 91; D. Suarez # 92; K. Larson 93-101; Kyle Busch 102-124; M. Truex Jr. 125-129; B. Keselowski 130-140; Kyle Busch 141-150; R. Blaney 151-160.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Busch 5 times for 100 laps; E. Jones # 2 times for 20 laps; B. Keselowski 1 time for 11 laps; R. Blaney 1 time for 10 laps; K. Larson 1 time for 9 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 5 laps; R. Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 3 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 1 lap; D. Suarez # 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,4,2,42,48,24,41,20,1,3

Stage #2 Top Ten: 42,18,78,4,24,77,2,41,5,20

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 11 2017
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Terry Ruth says:

    Jim,
    I have been with the #21 from the 1950’s and still cheering today more than ever. Good times bad times it still
    a good ride.
    You still know how to write.
    Old school teams and writers mingle with new tech and neo-cool young drivers.
    Terry