NASCAR penalizes Blaney's team
NASCAR took some of the wind out of Ryan Blaney’s eighth place finish in Friday’s 250-mile NASCAR Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The sanctioning body announced Wednesday that Blaney’s crew chief Doug Randolph was fined $5,000 and that High Point resident Blaney and car owner Brad Keselowski each lost six points as penalty for Blaney’s Ford not meeting minimum height requirements in post-race inspection.
The deduction drops Blaney from fifth in standings into a tie for sixth with Ty Dillon, 53 points behind leader Matt Crafton.
The Truck Series is idle this weekend but Blaney will be in action on Friday in an ARCA race at Michigan Speedway. Blaney will drive a Dodge fielded by Cunningham Motorsports to get his first experience of competition at the two-mile track.
He will also drive for the team June 22 at Road America and July 21 at Chicagoland Speedway. The event at Road America will give Blaney road racing experience in advance of the Truck Series visit to a road course in Canada in September. The Truck Series visits Chicagoland Speedway in September.
“I’m very excited to return to the ARCA Racing Series with Cunningham Motorsports,” Blaney said. “They have an excellent team and to go to a place like Michigan where I have never been before will really help me for our truck race there later in the year. ARCA is a great series with competitive teams and I am looking forward to all three races.”
Cunningham Motorsports also serves as a development team for Penske Racing. Blaney made seven Nationwide starts for Penske last season and was pressed into duty for his first Nationwide start of the season last weekend when rain delayed an event at Iowa Speedway to Sunday and prevented Cup driver Joey Logano from participating.
GOING FOR A RECORD
Austin Dillon can set a Nationwide Series record this weekend at Michigan.
If he wins the pole position for Saturday’s 200-mile race, it will be his fourth in a row, which will break the mark that he tied last weekend at Iowa and shares with Sam Ard, Mark Martin, Trevor Bayne, Michael Waltrip and Jeff Gordon.
Dillon, of Lewisville, began the streak last month at Charlotte Motor Speedway and followed that by setting fast time at Dover in cars fielded by his grandfather, Richard Childress.
The streak accounts for all three of his poles this year, boosting the number for his career to six. The other three came last year. One of those was at Michigan. The other two were at Kentucky Speedway.
“We’re out here trying to break records and create a name for ourselves,” Dillon said during a conference call Wednesday. “That group of people is an awesome group of people to be held up against, so if we can go out there and break that six-way tie that it is right now in the Nationwide Series for poles, it would be amazing. We’re going to a track where I’m very capable of setting the pole. We’ve got some great horsepower this year. Hopefully we can get it done this weekend.”
Dillon, 23, said doing well in qualifying is something that he began to enjoy while racing on dirt tracks.
“I feel like qualifying — it just comes to me naturally from dirt racing. I’ve sat on a lot of poles in dirt cars,” Dillon said “One of my favorite things to look back on I sat the pole for the World 100, one of the toughest dirt races out there at Eldora (Speedway in Ohio). I feel like getting in the car and holding it wide open for a lap or being in the gas the longest is something that’s been pretty simple for me.”
So far, the speed in qualifying hasn’t translated into victories this season, although Dillon lead most of the Iowa race before losing the lead to Trevor Bayne late.
“Right now, it’s just making sure that we can do that throughout a run and be fast over a long period of time,” Dillon said.