Ryan Blaney: "We definitely have to be better" to advance in playoffs

Ryan Blaney said he and his Wood Brothers team “just survived” Round 1 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs but is optimistic for better results in Round 2.

Ryan Blaney: "We definitely have to be better" to advance in playoffs
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford Jeremy Bullins
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske Ford
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford
Ryan Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing Ford

Blaney finished 11th and ninth in Round 1’s first two races and struggled greatly last weekend at Dover, Del., coming away with a 23rd-place finish. Blaney failed to lead a lap in the three-race first round.

“The first round we just survived and last week wasn’t the prettiest at all but we did what we had to do to get in. I look forward to the second round,” he said.

“I knew the first round was going to be the toughest to be honest with you because I struggle at Loudon (N.H.) pretty bad. Dover hasn’t been my best race track. I thought that was going to be a struggle round for us.”

Blaney enters Round 2 – which consists of races at Charlotte, Talladega and Kansas – seeded ninth among the 12 remaining drivers in the playoffs. Only eight will move on to Round 3.

The No. 21 team has run well this season on the 1.5-mile intermediate tracks, which gives Blaney hope of making it through the next round.

Two of his best performances this season – outside of his victory at Pocono – have come at the 1.5-mile tracks at Texas and Kansas. He led 148 laps at Texas in the spring and finished 12th and led 83 laps at the spring Kansas race at finished fourth.

“I think the next tracks will suit us a little bit better because of the mile-and-a-halves, and Talladega we always run decent at. I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s nice to be here in Charlotte.

“Hopefully, we can have some good runs and start off on the right foot; hopefully be in a decent spot for Talladega where we don’t have to hit a home run or anything like that. If that happens, we’ll just roll with what we have to do.”

Blaney was running in the top-five at Charlotte in May when he was forced to take his No. 21 Ford to the garage with an axle failure. He started seventh in the race but ended up 24th and four laps down.

The team will not be able to afford those kinds of issues in this round.

“We can’t go out this weekend and run like we did at Dover. That was pretty bad. We definitely have to be better,” Blaney said. “We’re going to have to get a bunch of stage points and run at least in the top-10 in all three races to transfer on.

“As we cut teams it just gets harder to make it into the next round. We need to be faster and compete and be able to go out there and do it every single weekend. I think this will be a pretty big testament for us and how it’s going to go off here in the second round.

“We do need to be better, for sure.”

 Watch Blaney talk about it all on Friday:

 

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