NXS: 22 Reasons to Smile; Blaney Completes Penske’s XFINITY Season Sweep at Kentucky

Kyle Magda Featured, MidSouth, NASCAR 0 Comments

SPARTA, Ky. — Recap by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda — Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America photo —

It seemed nothing went right for Ryan Blaney leading up to Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

Blaney missed the Sprint Cup Series race last weekend at Chicagoland due to the Wood Brothers Racing team having no points and endured another tough break in last week’s NXS race with a flat tire.

However, he put all the bad luck behind him in the final NXS stand-alone race of the season, grabbing the lead on a green-white-checkered restart en route to his second NXS win on the year and second at the Bluegrass State oval.

“This whole Penske organization has been really strong at Kentucky ever since we started coming here in the last handful of years,” Blaney said. “It’s something about these rough racetracks that really suits them well and they do a great job of bringing great race cars to the track. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to drive them a couple of times here at this racetrack and it’s just something really special to do.”

The NASCAR Next alumni was running the No. 22 car at Kentucky for the first time since winning his first-career XFINITY Series race there in September of 2013.

In all, Blaney led a race-high 81 laps, and at one point in the event had a seven-second lead until yellow after yellow flew to set up more restarts — all on a night that featured a track record 10 cautions.

“Honestly, you were at a disadvantage if you were leading I felt like, all night,” Blaney said. “You were on defense and it was so hard to keep the guys behind you. Just, this racetrack invites people to go up to the third or fourth lane in [Turns] 1 and 2 where they can get to your outside.”

“I was in the middle of four-wide on the back-straightaway twice tonight. That’s just guys being really aggressive. It’s the easier place to gain spots is on restarts.”

It took the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford a few laps to get going, but the 21-year-old drove away from everyone when green flag runs occurred and added his name next to teammate Brad Keselowski’s as part of the Team Penske season sweep at Kentucky.

Second-place points man Ty Dillon began to pull away from Blaney with five laps to go before Jeremy Clements spun around to bring out the race’s final caution. Blaney got the push from Regan Smith after the restart and Dillon fell short of completing the family sweep, with older brother Austin winning the Camping World Truck Series race earlier in the day at Loudon.

“We put together a great weekend when we got here on Friday,” Ty said. “I knew when the time we unloaded we’d have a shot to win and I feel that way every time we unload with the RCR XFINITY program. I was proud of him. He got the first part done and it was my job to get the second win. It would have been a really cool moment in time there, but hopefully we’ll have plenty more.”

Regan Smith, reigning series champion Chase Elliott and Dillon’s rookie teammate Brandon Jones rounded out the top five.

Including defending race winner Brendan Gaughan — who finished where he started in sixth — three Richard Childress Racing cars finished in the top-six, with RCR cars combining to lead more than half (104 laps) of Saturday night’s race.

As a result of his runner-up effort, Dillon trimmed six more points off of Chris Buescher’s lead in the standings, which is now down to 19 heading into Dover International Speedway.

Buescher ran outside the top-10 most of the night until the restarts came, when he quietly worked his way up to seventh before the checkered flag. Dillon, however, refuses to concede the title fight.

“I think about it every day because of how bad I want that championship,” the young gun said about points. “I’ve been thinking about it since the start of the year and we’re going to keep eating. We’re hungry right now, so we just have to go out there and keep getting our job done like we’re doing. The 60, I think they’re backpedaling a little bit right now, so we’re charging and they’re thinking about it. That’s good then.”

Erik Jones, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Matt Tifft, in his XFINITY debut for Joe Gibbs Racing, made up the balance of the top 10.

Crosley Brands 150 winner Ryan Reed and Brennan Poole had hard crashes during Saturday night’s event. Reed got collected in an early crash and took a driver’s side hit from Blake Koch, while something broke on the No. 42 DC Solar machine for Poole, sending him spinning and getting T-boned by Harrison Rhodes around the half-way mark. Both drivers were OK after their respective crashes.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to action on Oct. 3 at Dover International Speedway for the Hisense 200.


RESULTS: NASCAR XFINITY Series; VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300; Kentucky Speedway; September 26, 2015

  1. Ryan Blaney
  2. Ty Dillon
  3. Regan Smith
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Brandon Jones
  6. Brendan Gaughan
  7. Chris Buescher
  8. Erik Jones
  9. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  10. Matt Tifft
  11. Elliott Sadler
  12. Ryan Sieg
  13. Brian Scott
  14. Dakoda Armstrong
  15. J.J. Yeley
  16. Cale Conley
  17. Dylan Kwasniewski
  18. Ross Chastain
  19. Jeremy Clements
  20. David Starr
  21. Joey Gase
  22. Martin Roy
  23. Daniel Suarez
  24. Derrike Cope
  25. Ryan Reed
  26. Derek White
  27. Mike Harmon
  28. Ryan Truex
  29. Eric McClure
  30. Ben Rhodes
  31. Dylan Lupton
  32. Brennan Poole
  33. Morgan Shepherd
  34. Harrison Rhodes
  35. T.J. Bell
  36. Michael Self
  37. Ryan Ellis
  38. John Jackson Jr.
  39. Jeff Green
  40. Blake Koch


About the Writer

Kyle Magda is Race Chaser Online’s Associate Editor and a co-host of both Motorsports Madness and the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show, airing at 7 p.m. ET on Monday and Thursday nights, respectively, on the Performance Motorsports Network. Magda broke into racing in mid-2001 as the sport’s tide was beginning to change towards the current modern-era formula, but still has an affinity for the history of NASCAR’s earlier days.

The 22-year-old currently studies print journalism at Penn State University and can be found traveling to numerous tracks across the country, covering everything from NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series to the UNOH All-Stars Circuit of Champions and the Super Cup Stock Car Series.

Email Kyle at: kmagda@ptd.net

Follow on Twitter: @KyleMagda

Follow Race Chaser Online: @RaceChaserNews

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