By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Under two weeks before the 2017 Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR announced that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race would have four stages instead of the typical three seen all season long. At the end of each stage, the stage winner receives one Playoff Point and the Top 10 earns additional Championship points. One driver that is happy with the extra stage is Wood Brothers Racing driver Ryan Blaney.
Blaney is coming off his second top five of the season, fourth at Kansas, as well as a Stage 2 win in the Monster Energy Open as the series stays at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Memorial Day weekend.
Even with the change coming so close to the running of the Coca-Cola 600, Blaney was confident that the extra stage would not change his approach.
“I don’t think you change up your approach at all,” said Blaney. “I really think that we’ve done a pretty decent job all year as a team of attacking pretty hard all throughout the race and it’s paid off for us in getting stage points and a couple stage wins. That’s really helped us out from the three bad weeks that we’ve had. It’s kept us in contention to be where we need to be and honestly I don’t look at points very much. I just try to go out there and we try to win races and do the best we can and stay aggressive like we have been all year. That’s benefitted us more than it’s hurt us, so it’s nice that they added an extra stage.”
He continued, adding that the move to add an extra stage was a great decision by NASCAR.
“I thought that was a great move on NASCAR’s part because this is such a long race you deserve to have another stage in it to break it up, number one, and number two, if you’re running up front all race it kind of benefits you even more,” he said. “I don’t think we approach it any different, myself and the team. We’re gonna race like we always do, unless a situation comes up to where you have to make another decision at the end of a stage, just like at Kansas or anything like that. We’ll approach it pretty similar.”
In 65 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, Blaney has six top fives, 15 Top 10s, and one pole position. In three previous starts at Charlotte, he has a best finish of 14th in the 2015 Bank of America 500.
Blaney will now look ahead to the entire Memorial Day weekend as he will compete in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series, in Team Penske’s No. 12 Snap-On Ford Mustang, and in the premier series in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Fusion.