Ryan Blaney says his No. 12 team must “clean some stuff up” if they are to find victory lane like his Team Penske teammates.
Blaney will start from the pole at ISM Raceway, his first top-10 starting spot of the season. The last two weeks, Blaney has watched as Penske’s Brad Keselowski (at Atlanta), and Joey Logano (at Las Vegas) won the race while he encountered issues that resulted in mediocre finishes.
“It’s been unfortunate,” Blaney said Friday night after qualifying. “While it’s nice to have Penske winning, obviously I’m selfish and I want to win. But it’s good to have our cars really fast, and our finishes definitely don’t reflect how we’ve been running. We’ve been really fast this year at all three places so far; we didn’t even really get to race at Vegas. We had that tire problem that first stop and tried to play catch-up all day. Atlanta we led a bunch of laps and then had that deal on pit road.
“Just trying to clean up some stuff and maybe get a little bit of luck on our side. … I want to be part of the win club here in the Penske group.”
After crashing out of the Daytona 500, Blaney led 41 laps in Atlanta before having an extended pit stop late as he backed up over the jack. He finished 22nd.
Blaney then finished 22nd in Las Vegas when a valve stem was knocked off during an early pit stop, forcing him to make another unscheduled stop on Lap 50. With only two cautions for stage breaks, Blaney never recovered.
Through three weeks, Blaney has an average finish of 25th and is 15th in points.
Things have been off to a fast and smooth start in Phoenix, however. Blaney also paced the lone Friday practice session before earning the pole.
“We fired out of the box really good this year, so hopefully you just keep it going and keep working hard,” Blaney said. “You can never really settle. I feel like Penske is the best group right now, for sure — we’re still working every day to try and get better and better.
“So, we just need to clean up some things and, like I said, the speed is there. It’s just a matter of stop running into issues, and I think we’ll be pretty good.”