Ryan Blaney Scores First NASCAR Win at Phoenix

Won in Third NASCAR Start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West

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Ryan Blaney started fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (NKNPSW) race Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). He fell back to 11th in the first half of the 125-mile event and struggled with a tight-handling No. 11 Accell Construction/Heavy Duty/Ruston Transport Chevrolet. The crew made significant changes to the DB Racing car during the five-minute break, and Blaney quickly drove to the lead for 44 of the final 45 laps. He took the checkered flag for his first NASCAR victory in his third start. Blaney, son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dave Blaney, started fourth in the Casino Arizona 125 and fell back to fifth by lap four. He radioed that the No. 11 Accell Construction/Heavy Duty/Ruston Transport Chevrolet was extremely tight through the center of the corner. By the third yellow flag on lap 38, Blaney held onto the fifth position, but continued to have issues with a tight racecar. Crew Chief Trent Owens reassured the 17-year-old driver that they would make big changes to the car during the team’s pit stop. Blaney continued to struggle and fell back to 11th when a multi-car incident brought out the yellow flag on lap 65. At lap 67, NASCAR Officials called the five-minute break for teams to work on their cars. Blaney reiterated that the car was tight and chattering in the corner. Owens called for trackbar, wedge, stagger and air pressure adjustments. 

The field went back to green flag racing on lap 67 with Blaney in the 11th position. Just one lap later, the NASCAR rookie drove into the ninth position, and by the next caution on lap 71, he sat in the seventh position. The young driver confirmed that the car was much better and really fast in the first few laps of a run. A four-car incident in turn one brought out the red flag on lap 78, and Blaney moved up to fourth. 

The green flag was displayed on lap 80 with Blaney in the fourth position. He drove into third by turn one with the leaders racing side-by-side in front of him. The High Point, N.C., native drove deep into turn three and passed both cars on the inside to take the lead when the field logged the next lap. Blaney held the lead for the next 21 laps. Alex Bowman drove past the No. 11 Accell Construction/Heavy Duty/Ruston Transport Chevrolet during the lap-103 restart, but Blaney regained the lead the next lap. 

Blaney extended his lead by 2.4 seconds and crossed the finish line for his first NASCAR win in just his third start. In his previous NASCAR starts, Blaney tallied an eighth- and 10th-place finish in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races at Richmond International Raceway and Iowa Speedway, respectively.

“The first half of the race wasn’t very good for us,” explained Blaney. We were really tight, and we were lucky to stay in 11th. We came in and Trent made some amazing changes to the car. We darted right up to the lead there in 15 laps. After we got the lead, I knew we had them. We were riding around there and maintaining quick speed.

“It was a really exciting night,” the Casino Arizona 125 winner continued. “This is definitely the biggest win of my career so far. It is fun to coming to the West races. I always like to come to the K&N races because they teach me a lot, especially racing with Greg Pursley and Bowman. They are a lot of fun to race with. It is nice to run on NASCAR tracks and get a little experience. It was special to have most of my family was here, especially my dad, and we had a lot of people from Accell Construction and Heavy Duty, so that was really cool to be able to celebrate my first NASCAR win with them in victory lane.”

Blaney will compete for the point championship in the Pro-All Star Series (PASS) November 26th at Concord Speedway in North Carolina.  He is six points behind the point leader Jay Fogleman going into the final race of the season.

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