Ryan Blaney now has his maiden victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series racing the No. 22 Ford for Penske Racing.
Ryan Blaney drove the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford to the lead at the halfway point of the 200-lap/300-mile race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on Saturday night and led 96 of the final 100 laps to claim his first-career Nationwide win. He became the fourth driver to drive the No. 22 to victory lane this year, joining Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and A.J. Allmendinger.
"That's very cool," Blaney said of the No. 22 team's record of 10 wins with four drivers. "It just shows how good this team is."
The No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Austin Dillon finished second and Matt Crafton produced a third-place finish in his third Nationwide start from behind the wheel of the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
Penske Racing dominated the race, with Sam Hornish Jr. keeping the No. 12 Penske Ford up front for 65 laps in the first half of the race and Blaney taking over to lead most of the second half.
"It's just awesome to be able to do this," Blaney said. "I just wish my dad (Sprint Cup Series driver Dave Blaney) was here, but the rest of my family is here."
After taking the lead, Blaney did temporarily lose the top spot to the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Elliott Sadler when Sadler opted to take only two fresh tires during a caution on lap 106 while everyone else took four. Blaney got off pit road second to Sadler and retook the lead soon after the restart.
The yellow flag waved nine times in the race, with four of those cautions coming in the final 40 laps. With each restart, Blaney was able to maintain the lead. In the final laps, he had to hold off both Dillon and Hornish on restarts.
"I tried to get through there as good as I could," Dillon said of his inability to take the lead from Blaney. "His car was just really good. Everything was good tonight. There was just one car better than us."
Although Blaney was able to maintain his lead through the rash of cautions and restarts, it wasn't easy for the driver making his 15th-career start in the series.
"It was really tough to hold on to the lead," Blaney said.
Hornish was second to Blaney on a restart just inside the final 20 laps of the race, but he got loose and lost several spots soon after the restart, allowing Dillon to move into the second spot for good. Hornish dropped back to seventh position, but in the final laps he was able to work his way back up into the top-five to finish fourth.
The No. 99 RAB Racing Toyota of Alex Bowman finished fifth. Sixth through 10th were the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Drew Herring, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Brian Vickers, the No. 34 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeb Burton, the No. 44 TriStar Motorsports Toyota of Cole Whitt and the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Michael Annett.