It’s a big weekend for 24-year old Ryan Blaney, returning to Pocono Raceway ready to defend his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup victory in Sunday’sPocono 400 race (at 2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Blaney has moved from the Wood Brothers to Team Penske this season, driving the No. 12 Ford. It’s often been a season of all-in or all-out for the young and hugely-popular talent – who has three top-five and six top-10 finishes through the opening 13 races of the season. These are high marks he is expected to easily exceed, considering he had career-best four top-fives and 14 top-10s all of last year and is already close to surpassing those numbers only a third of the way through 2018.
He led a race-best 118 laps in the season-opening Daytona 500 and finished seventh (he won the first Duel as well), and Blaney’s overall work was enough to earn him the No. 1 position in the standings after the race – a career-high ranking for him and an ideal way to kick off his tenure with the championship Penske team.
Blaney impressively stayed among the top-three in the championship standings through the early season– leading 145 laps and finishing a season-best of third at Martinsville.
A crash at the always-tough Bristol Motor Speedway in mid-April interrupted the fast start. And he’s had two more DNFs since – in the last two races (at Kansas and at Charlotte on Sunday night).
So he comes to Pocono – where he has three finishes of 11th or better in four Cup starts – ready to right the ship, defend his first career victory and add to the win total; goals everyone in the sport fully expects Blaney to meet.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!