With an eye toward the playoffs, Ryan Blaney believes his No. 12 Team Penske group is positioned well, but there are things they need to clean up.
And, yes, Blaney knows he’s been preaching that same message practically all season.
“I think some of the stuff that doesn’t go our way is out of our control,” said Blaney. “Some stuff we can control; some stuff we can’t. And I’ve always just kind of said let’s do the best we can controlling the things that we have a hold of, whether that’s pit road stuff or on my side, not screwing up and asking for the right adjustments.
“But some things you can’t predict.
“It just seems like the stuff we can’t control happens a lot to us, which I probably sound like — I don’t know, [like] I’m blaming things. I’m not blaming anything; it’s just I’ve always wanted to do the best we can and control the things we can control.”
And a big part of that is Blaney realizing he needs to understand better what he needs later in races. He said that’s just a part of learning.
Blaney, as has been documented before, is the only Penske driver who has not yet visited victory lane. Instead, he and crew chief Jeremy Bullins have had more of a hot and cold season. For example, Blaney started the year with three straight finishes outside the top 20, then ripped off three consecutive top-five finishes.
Now, with just two more races to run before the postseason begins, Blaney sits with 11 top-10 finishes in his pocket and 365 laps led. At ninth in the standings, he has a 97-point advantage on the cutline to protect.
“Really no concern,” Blaney said of his team and position. “Yeah, we’d like to have won a race or two, and I think we’ve had some slip through our fingers — some just not going your way, and some days you feel like everyone’s against you, and nothing goes your way.
“I’m really confident. Really, you look at the last few weeks, I think we’ve had some really strong runs.”
Fourth in New Hampshire. A 10th at Pocono. Fifth in Watkins Glen. Then 10th again in Bristol. The only blemish the last five weeks was a 24th-place result in Michigan because of an issue with fuel pick-up.
“There are some things we can do better and get our cars a little better,” said Blaney. “I think our cars have been close to where they need to be. I feel like we’ve lost a little bit of ground – the Gibbs cars have been good lately; the (Stewart-) Haas No. 4 [Kevin Harvick] is starting to pick up. We just need a little bit more, but you’ll see it a little bit at Darlington and then Indy, and then everyone kind of goes all out for the playoffs.
“I think we’re in a good spot.”
Last year Blaney finished 15th at Darlington and 11th in Indianapolis to close out the regular season.