Consecutive wins give Ryan Blaney 'a good shot' at Cup title

Two wins in the last two weeks have moved Ryan Blaney from NASCAR Cup Series playoff participant into a serious title contender.

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Blaney’s back-to-back wins at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway – both coming with late-race passes for the lead – left him tied with Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman for the second-most wins in the regular season (three).

Most importantly, Blaney ended up with the No. 2 seed in the 16-driver playoffs, which begin with Sunday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Until his win Aug. 22 at Michigan, Blaney had one win from early in the season and appeared destined to enter the playoffs seeded in the middle of the pack or lower and with few playoff points to help him advance to the championship race.

In two weeks, Blaney still trails top-seed Kyle Larson by significant margin but is not on par with the likes of Truex, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Bowman – the other drivers in the playoffs with more than one win.

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry celebrates his win

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry celebrates his win

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

“It’s great that we’ve kind of really got a lot of playoff points here because that’s something that alluded me in my previous playoff runs, not a lot of playoff points when it comes to the end of the year,” Blaney, 27, said.

“It’s been really cool to capitalize on all this stuff. It’s what you need, that’s for sure.”

Todd Gordon, Blaney’s crew chief on the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, said the extra playoff points can make the difference between advancing or not through the playoff rounds.

“Last year we didn’t have that many bonus points going into the playoffs. We had a setback in the first race, then struggled through the second one. We didn’t make it out of the first round,” Gordon said.

“That’s been a focus for us, not only to make momentum but to get our points position where we can start off the playoffs where we want to.”

Charging into the playoffs

While his most recent victories have come on vastly different tracks, Blaney says he’s a big believer in momentum and couldn’t catch a wave of it at a better time.

“It’s good for confidence. Not only my self-confidence, but everyone on the team, it’s just huge,” Blaney said. “You can really have good momentum. Momentum is a huge thing in sports especially.

“Confidence is big in not only motorsports but sports and life. If you have confidence in yourself, you can achieve something. You know what your goal is, go out there and do the best you can and achieve it – that really helps you out.

“Three wins on the year and you hope to keep that going throughout the playoffs and keep transferring and try to make it to Phoenix and have a shot at a championship. So, it has been a fun year and it has been nice to end the regular season out this way and start off Darlington this weekend with a bunch of momentum and our heads held high.”

Even prior to the victories the last two weeks, Blaney said he believed his No. 12 team has shown the ability to compete with the best this season, even if they’ve allowed some chances at wins slip away.

What the last two weeks have shown, is when the No. 12 team is hitting on all cylinders, it can compete with anyone else in the Cup Series.

“I just think this team is so good, they can do it. If they really perform to the best of their abilities, and I do as well, I think we have a good shot at (winning the championship),” he said.

“Capitalizing on opportunities, that’s what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks, putting ourselves in positions to win races. That’s what this team does a really good job at.”

Blaney’s back-to-back wins at Michigan International Speedway and Daytona International Speedway – both coming with late-race passes for the lead – left him tied with Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman for the second-most wins in the regular season (three).

Most importantly, Blaney ended up with the No. 2 seed in the 16-driver playoffs, which begin with Sunday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

Until his win Aug. 22 at Michigan, Blaney had one win from early in the season and appeared destined to enter the playoffs seeded in the middle of the pack or lower and with few playoff points to help him advance to the championship race.

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor, Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Fifth Third Bank, Corey LaJoie, Spire Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Built bar

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor, Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Fifth Third Bank, Corey LaJoie, Spire Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Built bar

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

In two weeks, Blaney still trails top-seed Kyle Larson by significant margin but is not on par with the likes of Truex, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Bowman – the other drivers in the playoffs with more than one win.

“It’s great that we’ve kind of really got a lot of playoff points here because that’s something that alluded me in my previous playoff runs, not a lot of playoff points when it comes to the end of the year,” Blaney, 27, said.

“It’s been really cool to capitalize on all this stuff. It’s what you need, that’s for sure.”

Todd Gordon, Blaney’s crew chief on the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, said the extra playoff points can make the difference between advancing or not through the playoff rounds.

“Last year we didn’t have that many bonus points going into the playoffs. We had a setback in the first race, then struggled through the second one. We didn’t make it out of the first round,” Gordon said.

“That’s been a focus for us, not only to make momentum but to get our points position where we can start off the playoffs where we want to.”

While his most recent victories have come on vastly different tracks, Blaney says he’s a big believer in momentum and couldn’t catch a wave of it at a better time.

“It’s good for confidence. Not only my self-confidence, but everyone on the team, it’s just huge,” Blaney said. “You can really have good momentum. Momentum is a huge thing in sports especially.

“Confidence is big in not only motorsports but sports and life. If you have confidence in yourself, you can achieve something. You know what your goal is, go out there and do the best you can and achieve it – that really helps you out.

“Three wins on the year and you hope to keep that going throughout the playoffs and keep transferring and try to make it to Phoenix and have a shot at a championship. So, it has been a fun year and it has been nice to end the regular season out this way and start off Darlington this weekend with a bunch of momentum and our heads held high.”

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards/Cardell Cabinetry, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

Even prior to the victories the last two weeks, Blaney said he believed his No. 12 team has shown the ability to compete with the best this season, even if they’ve allowed some chances at wins slip away.

What the last two weeks have shown, is when the No. 12 team is hitting on all cylinders, it can compete with anyone else in the Cup Series.

“I just think this team is so good, they can do it. If they really perform to the best of their abilities, and I do as well, I think we have a good shot at (winning the championship),” he said.

“Capitalizing on opportunities, that’s what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks, putting ourselves in positions to win races. That’s what this team does a really good job at.”

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