Blaney Surges in Final Laps to XFINITY Win at Charlotte

by Angela Campbell On Sat, May. 27, 2017

Photo Credit: Brad Keppel

CONCORD, N.C. — With two laps to go, Ryan Blaney executed the move of the race, powering by Kevin Harvick in his No. 12 Team Penske Ford to reclaim the lead and capture the XFINITY Series Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Justin Allgaier led the field to green in the XFINITY Series race Saturday afternoon but his lead in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevy was short-lived, as the race came down to a battle between Blaney and Kevin Harvick with some surprise runs thrown in by Austin Dillon and Darrell Wallace Jr. just to keep things interesting.

Harvick won Stage 1 and led three times during the race for 58 total laps while Stages 1 and 2 went to Blaney who led four times for 107 laps. Though Harvick led fewer laps overall, he put himself in position to win as the race neared its conclusion, leading from Lap 181-197 after Blaney got blocked in his stall on his last pit stop and lost the lead. A final caution on Lap 195 and the subsequent restart on Lap 198, gave Blaney the opportunity he needed to pass Harvick and capture the checkered flag.

It’s his fifth XFINITY Series career win and the second victory for Team Penske this year. It also has special meaning for Blaney and his father, Dave Blaney as they became the first father-son duo to win a XFINITY Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Blaney spoke about the significance of the win for Team Penske.

“It means a ton,” he said. “Anytime you can win for Mr. Penske is huge. That’s super-special to me. He’s given me my opportunity. It was a combination of Brad’s truck team and Mr. Penske giving me a shot in 2012 and I’ve been really lucky to drive great race cars for him, so you want to do the best job you can for him, especially on this weekend, where he has the Indy 500. That’s such a huge race for them and he’s been so dominant in that race. To deliver for him early, hopefully, that will put him in a good mood for tomorrow and get those guys going.”

When asked about his Dad’s influence, Blaney began by saying, “He’s the best race car driver ever,” adding, “That’s how I’ve always looked at him and that’s how I’ve always thought of him, not only as my father but the way he drives car – and not only his driving ability, but his mindset towards things. I think he’s one of the smartest people I know, personally, in the race car, outside the race car, building parts, coming up with inventions and ideas.

“He always just supports me and it was cool to have him here today. That’s really special to me to have him at the race track through the good and bad times of getting a stern talking to or helpful support and it’s usually support. I’ve been lucky to have somebody like that to help me through these weekends to try to get myself better, whether it’s restarts or long runs or just communication. He’s been the best person, so in my mind, I’ll never be half the race car driver he is, personally. I think he’s the greatest one ever and that’s how I’ll always think of him.”

Harvick finished second, posting his 18th top-10 finish in 28 races at Charlotte and his third top-10 finish this season. He talked about the last restart and the decision to start on the outside.

“It was a tough decision for our Hunt Brothers Ford team. I knew that we had the 22 behind us if we were on the top and he pushed me a little bit and then kind of laid off there, getting into one. The 12 had the best car on the restart getting going. He’s the one who helped us get the lead and I knew I was gonna have my hands full, but he just beat me there at the end and we wound up getting second.”

Austin Dillon, who led 20 laps during the race, placed third in his No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet.

Although he didn’t get the finish he wanted, Dillon said, “We did a really good job adjusting the car over the course of the race. The Rheem Chevrolet really came to us at the end when the clouds came in. I hate that we weren’t able to visit Victory Lane today for our pit crew, especially. They did such a good job today.

“So did my new crew chief, Randall Burnett. We had a few good restarts there but we were in a Penske sandwich and couldn’t do much about it. I got hit on the restart and it just wasn’t enough to carry me into Turn 1. I had a lot of fun today. I’m proud of this RCR XFINITY Series program.”

Christopher Bell drove his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to fourth place in his debut start in the XFINITY Series. Denny

“I’m glad it was 200 laps, because we used every single bit of it,” Bell said after the hard-fought fourth place finish. “We didn’t have a lot of luck on the restarts at the beginning of the race, starting on the bottom, but we got the luck (starting on the top) when we needed it at the end.”

Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five in the No. 20 JGR Toyota but thought the team should have finished stronger.

“I thought our car handled pretty decent all day and it definitely hurt with that one pit stop where we had a lugnut hang up on us. I felt we were as good as the 41 (Harvick) and the 2 (Dillon),” Hamlin said, “for sure and it all comes down to those last restarts. It just took too long for us to battle back there.”

Elliott Sadler remains the series points leader despite a 35th place result, after getting caught up in an accident late in the race.

Follow @angiecampbell_ for the latest NASCAR news and feature stories.

Unofficial Results:

NXS Charlotte results

 

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