Blaney races with eventual winner Matt Crafton (Credit: Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-Series, made second career start at Kansas Speedway Saturday afternoon, after posting a 11th place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in October of 2012. Blaney qualified his Ford F-Series in the 19th position Saturday morning.
After moving up six places, while battling a loose race Truck, Blaney saw the caution flag wave for the first time of the afternoon on lap 13. Crew chief, Doug Randolph, directed Blaney to bring his F-Series on to pit road for fuel and a track bar adjustment, with the intention of tightening his machine up in the corners.
Caution three came on lap 28 due to a crash by the No. 7 Truck between turns three and four. Randolph, again, brought the No. 29 Ford F-Series to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. When the green fell on lap 33, Blaney was slated in the 22nd position and moving quickly to the front right before the leaders tangled and brought out the fourth caution on lap 34. Spotter Joey Meier checked in with Blaney to get some in-car feedback, which was positive enough to keep Blaney on track in favor of track position. Owner Brad Keselowski, radioed in to assure Blaney that he would stack up behind slower Trucks on the restart and there wouldn’t be an issue moving forward once they went back green.
Blaney and Randolph continued to improve the F-Series throughout the day at Kansas Speedway, which yielded results in the latter stages of the race. The eight caution of the afternoon fell on lap 109. Randolph brought the Cooper Standard No. 29 to pit road for four fresh tires and maximum fuel, playing strategy with the hope of late race track position.
The red flag was displayed on lap 120 for a Todd Bodine crash, Blaney restarted in the seventh position on lap 125, where he started to rip through the field in his Cooper Standard Ford. With momentum and his Ford coming to life towards the tail end of the race, Blaney was in hot pursuit of Brendan Gaughan, passing him with just two laps remaining to finish third at Kansas Speedway. Blaney came on the radio after crossing the start / finish line, thanking his team for the incredible job they did all day long to get him to the front.
Blaney and the No. 29 Cooper Standard team now sits 4th in NCWTS driver point standings, 33 points back from first.
“My team today battled hard and it paid off. This is a testament to all the work BKR and Ford Racing have put in the past months to get to a competitive level week in and week out at the race track. We look forward to heading into a small break in action building on the momentum we currently have achieved. Charlotte is a few weeks away and I can’t wait to get back in my Cooper Standard Ford F-Series and go racing!” – Ryan Blaney