The NASCAR Cup Series season continues on Sunday with the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. There are several drivers in contention for the win, including Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney. The driver of the No. 12 has two wins at Talladega since 2019, which he attributes to multiple factors.
Blaney met with Heavy and other media members on Thursday morning to preview Sunday’s race at Talladega. He addressed race strategies, the success of other teams, and his own trips to Victory Lane. As Blaney explained, constant communication plays an important role in his recent success. He also said that luck — good or bad — can ruin a promising race.
“Communication between spotter [and] driver is really good,” Blaney told Heavy and the assembled media. “Bringing fast cars is, obviously, a huge help. Some of it, you’ve got to pepper in a little bit of luck too. You can get tore up, and it’s none of your doing. You are just riding around there and someone slips up a little bit, and you are in a 15-car pileup.
“All of those things mix together as far as being successful at Talladega, trying to find yourself in the right spot at the right time. If you find yourself at the end of these races capitalizing on it, that goes back to the driver-spotter combination. I think it’s different skills at different points of the races.”
Most of Blaney’s wins are at superspeedways
The Team Penske driver has been a full-time driver in the Cup Series since 2016, first with Wood Brothers Racing and later at Team Penske. However, he secured his first top-five finish in the Cup Series during a part-time 2015 season when he finished fourth at Talladega.
During his time behind the wheel, Blaney has reached Victory Lane five times. He registered three of these wins at superspeedways, oval tracks longer than two miles. Two wins took place at Talladega and the other at Pocono.
Both times that Blaney won at the Alabama track, he did so in an exciting fashion. He edged out Ryan Newman by .007 seconds during a 2019 playoff race to move on to the next round. He then defeated Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by .007 seconds in 2020’s Geico 500 to notch the fourth Cup win of his career.
Blaney’s most recent trip to Talladega ended in a wreck
As an example of how luck can ruin a promising day, Blaney entered the playoff race at Talladega with two consecutive wins at the track. He was set up to win three in a row and book his trip to the Round of eight. However, a crash ruined his day in the extra laps. Blaney finished 25th overall while Denny Hamlin raced to Victory Lane.
Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon and others are involved in a late crash at Talladega. pic.twitter.com/kWpWQH1Kxu
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) October 4, 2020
The incident occurred in the second overtime. Bubba Wallace, who raced for Richard Petty Motorsports at the time, tried to move down into a lower lane, but the left rear of his No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro hit the right front of Ryan Preece’s No. 37 Chevrolet Camaro. Wallace spun to the left, hit Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford Mustang, and he spun back to the right before slamming nose-first into the wall.
Blaney was right behind Wallace and had nowhere to maneuver. His No. 12 Ford Mustang hit Wallace’s car broadside and destroyed the front of his car. The crash brought their days to an end and also damaged cars belonging to Austin Dillon, Matt Kenseth, and Alex Bowman.
One year later, Blaney will have an opportunity to secure his third win at Talladega Superspeedway. He will start on the fourth row and will have to avoid any wrecks during the 188-lap race. If Blaney reaches the final stage of the race unscathed, he will rely on constant communication with his spotter to fight for the win.