Blocking may be a bit tougher Sunday

TALLADEGA, AL - APRIL 26: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Mountain Dew/Little Caesar's Chevrolet, Daniel Suarez, driver of the #41 Coca-Cola Orange Vanilla Ford, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Hertz Chevrolet, lead Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Knauf Ford, and Erik Jones, driver of the #20 STANLEY Toyota, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 26, 2019 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

To Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney, Friday’s practice at Talladega was both productive and enjoyable, as drivers acclimated to the characteristics of the new superspeedway competition package.

The immediate first impression was that the closing rate was substantially faster than it had been in recent years. That could present a problem on Sunday when a race leader attempts to block runs from competing lanes.

“You get bigger runs on people, way bigger than last year, way bigger than Daytona this year” Blaney said. “There’s really no more of that air bubble. It’s very small. But you can get huge runs on people. As the leader, we played around a little bit with it in our drafting practice.

“It doesn’t have that beachball effect to where it stalls them out or pushes you away. They just keep coming at you because they’re picking up so much mile-an-hour. You’re going to see some blocks that people would make before this race… and they’re not going to work out, and they might end badly.

“But that’s what we practice for. But it’ll be tougher to make a block—that’s for sure.”