CONCORD, N.C. - Nearly 10 years after his father Dave Blaney captured his first and only Xfinity Series victory in a thrilling last-lap battle at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Ryan Blaney came full circle to collect his first Charlotte victory in Saturday’s Hisense 4K TV 300.
Blaney took advantage of a late restart with three laps to go and powered past Kevin Harvick to take the lead and beat the Coca-Cola 600 polesitter by four car lengths to win his first Xfinity Series victory of the season and fifth of his career.
Austin Dillon was third, followed by Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin.
Blaney had to come from the rear of the field after unapproved adjustments on his No. 12 Ford Mustang, giving Team Penske back-to-back Charlotte victories after Joey Logano took team to victory last October. Logano also scored a win for this team earlier this year at Las Vegas.
“It’s pretty neat to win here. … We had a really awesome race car all day,” said Blaney. “We had to start in the back and I thought that was pretty impressive thing to do to get up front. After we got the lead, we were able to control the race.
“I lost the lead there on the last pit stop. We had a good pit stop, I just kind of got boxed in. We didn’t get the angle there and that was on me. Luckily, we were able to get back up front and give ourselves a shot. Starting third, we only had a couple of laps to get back up front and try and make it happen. We were getting really good restarts all day. So, my hat’s off to the Penske group.”
In his five series starts so far this season, Blaney has yet to finish any worse than fifth, including three-straight runner-up finishes.
Harvick and Blaney had been the class of the field all day, with Harvick winning the opening stage.
Blaney rallied from having to start in the rear of the field, finished fourth in the first segment and restarted second behind Hamlin to start stage two.
Despite a big jump by Hamlin on the restart, Blaney tracked him down to take the lead on lap 53 and went onto win the stage over Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Harvick.
In the final segment, Blaney held the top spot until the final round of pit stops when Dillon beat the field out of the pits, followed by Harvick and Blaney.
Dillon would lead the next 20 laps before a caution flag with 14 laps to go set the field up for another restart.
When the green flag waved, Harvick moved back out front again with a big push from Blaney, who slid up in front of Dillon to take the second spot.
Harvick looked to have a clear path to the checkered flag before the final caution flag of the day with five laps to go to set up a three-lap dash for the checkered flag.
Having restarted on the bottom all afternoon, Harvick elected to restart on the high side with Keselowski lined up behind him and Blaney and Dillon lined up on the bottom.
On the restart, Harvick got another good push to put him out in front going into turn one, but Blaney powered back on the inside all by himself and managed to duck under Harvick as they came through turns three and four, finally pulling up in front of Harvick as they hit the frontstretch.
From there, the race belonged to Blaney, as Harvick wasn’t able to track him down in the final laps.
“If I could do (the final restart) again I would probably do it differently,” said Harvick. “I felt like the 12 (Blaney) had the best car on restarts. He was the one who helped us get the lead. Just wasn’t able to get going through one and two. I needed to be clear by the time I got to three and four.
“I hadn’t been taking the top but I felt if the 12 and 22 (Keselowski) got paired up on the top, I would be in double trouble. I had a heck of a time today. All in all, I just got beat there by the 12. He did a good job all day there on the restarts. I’m really proud of everybody on the team. We ran well and led a bunch of laps.”
Dillon tallied his fifth top-five Xfinity finish of the season, rallying from an early pass-through penalty that put his being the eight-ball from the beginning.
Dillon had qualified on the outside pole alongside Justin Allgaier, but was black-flagged for jumping the start and was sent to the rear of the field.
It took Dillon just 45 laps to race back into the top 10, and by the end of stage two he had raced his way back to third place.
“A lot of fun today,” said Dillon. “I hate it for our pit crew. They did such a good job and had a few good restarts there, but (I was) kind of in a Penske sandwich there and couldn’t do much about it. I got hit on the restart and it just was not enough to carry me into (turn) one.”
Bell finished an impressive fourth in his Xfinity Series debut, fighting his way back after spinning out on the frontstretch on lap two, and credited some seat time he got in a test session earlier this month for helping prepare him for his first race in an Xfinity car.
“We had to fight through a lot of adversity there, we had a lot of issues there. We would start passing guys and we’d have to go back and start at the tail. I’m glad it was 200 laps because we used every single bit of it. 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 when we needed it at the end.
“I think the test was huge, I had never sat in one of these cars before the test – being able to just get seat time and just get a feel for it.”
Series points leader Elliott Sadler crashed hard on lap 182 and saw his points lead over Allgaier drop from 29 points down to just six. William Byron, Daniel Hemric and Darrell Wallace, Jr. round out the top five in points.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Charlotte Motor Speedway – Concord, NC
Hisense 4K TV 300 – May 27, 2017
1. (3) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 200.
2. (5) Kevin Harvick(i), Ford, 200.
3. (2) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 200.
4. (7) Christopher Bell(i), Toyota, 200.
5. (8) Denny Hamlin(i), Toyota, 200.
6. (39) Brad Keselowski(i), Ford, 200.
7. (6) Cole Custer #, Ford, 200.
8. (11) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 200.
9. (17) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 200.
10. (10) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 200.
11. (9) Ryan Reed, Ford, 200.
12. (1) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 200.
13. (4) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 200.
14. (13) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 200.
15. (27) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 200.
16. (21) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 200.
17. (26) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 200.
18. (15) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 200.
19. (18) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 200.
20. (40) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 200.
21. (25) Casey Mears, Ford, 200.
22. (24) J.J. Yeley, Toyota, 200.
23. (35) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 200.
24. (34) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 200.
25. (22) Ben Kennedy, Chevrolet, 200.
26. (19) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, 200.
27. (16) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 200.
28. (14) Darrell Wallace, Jr., Ford, 200.
29. (31) B.J. McLeod, Chevrolet, 200.
30. (36) Todd Bodine, Chevrolet, 200.
31. (33) David Starr, Chevrolet, 199.
32. (32) Cale Conley, Toyota, 198.
33. (29) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 192.
34. (37) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 190.
35. (12) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, Accident, 180.
36. (23) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, Accident, 177.
37. (20) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, Accident, 166.
38. (28) Timmy Hill, Toyota, Electrical, 22.
39. (38) Carl Long, Dodge, Accident, 21.
40. (30) Stephen Leicht, Chevrolet, Electrical, 11.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 113.72 mph.
Time of Race: 02 Hrs, 38 Mins, 17 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.244 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 12 for 52 laps.
Lead Changes: 12 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: J. Allgaier 1-7; K. Harvick(i) 8-47; D. Hamlin(i) 48; B. McLeod 49; D. Hamlin(i) 50-52; R. Blaney(i) 53-108; D. Wallace Jr. 109-111; R. Blaney(i) 112-129; K. Harvick(i) 130; R. Blaney(i) 131-160; A. Dillon(i) 161-180; K. Harvick(i) 181-197; R. Blaney(i) 198-200.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): R. Blaney(i) 4 times for 107 laps; K. Harvick(i) 3 times for 58 laps; A. Dillon(i) 1 time for 20 laps; J. Allgaier 1 time for 7 laps; D. Hamlin(i) 2 times for 4 laps; D. Wallace Jr. 1 time for 3 laps; B. McLeod 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 41,20,00,12,48,42,2,3,22,16
Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,20,2,41,00,6,16,3,22,48
Top 10 in Points: 1. Elliott Sadler – 332; 2. Justin Allgaier – 326; 3. William Byron # – 275; 4. Daniel Hemric # – 253; 5. Darrell Wallace Jr. – 249; 6. Ryan Reed – 237; 7. Brennan Poole – 229; 8. Matt Tifft # – 227; 9. Michael Annett – 225; 10. Blake Koch – 220.