Last Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Ryan Blaney advanced to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Round of 8 with a third-place finish bolstered by 10 points accumulated during the first two stages of the Hollywood Casino 400.
But Blaney isn’t willing to say he and the No. 21 Wood Brothers racing team have overachieved this season. Blaney and team owners Eddie Wood and Len Wood prefer to view their Playoff run as peaking at the right time.
Nevertheless, Blaney faces an uphill battle in the Round of 8, which opens with Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville. With four spots available at Homestead, Blaney is seventh in the standings, eight points out of fourth. But he comes to a Martinsville track close to his childhood home in High Point, North Carolina, and even closer to the Wood Brothers’ traditional home in Stuart, Virginia.
“Coming here has always been pretty special for me, growing up in High Point – not too far down the road – and I came to pretty much every race here my dad (Dave Blaney) was running, so it’s been really special now to be able to run it the past few years with the Wood Brothers,” Blaney said.
“It’s been even more special with them being in Stuart, just about a half-hour down the road, so it’s really important for us to try to run well here. We haven’t run the best here in the past. I thought we made really good gains here in the spring race the first half of the race, and then the second half didn’t go very well for us, so hopefully we can change that up, especially in the spot we’re in being in the Round of 8, which is really special to be able to get into this round.
“This team deserves to be in it. They work their tails off to be up here, so hopefully we can kick this round off well at a race track that’s very special to both of us.”
Blaney was 22nd in Saturday’s final practice.