By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – The intensity ratchets up as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series edges closer to the season finale. One driver who has noticed the intensity is Ryan Blaney, who is in the Playoffs for the first time.
Blaney advanced from the Round of 16 to the Round of 12 relatively quietly. His No. 21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Fusion never competed for a win in the Round of 16, but was easily consistent enough to earn enough points to advance. With fewer competitors competing for even fewer spots, Blaney will have to run hard to position himself for the Round of Eight.
Blaney admitted that the Playoffs are supposed to be intense,
“Yeah, it’s intense, for sure. From Lap 1, that’s the way it’s suppose to be. (It’s) suppose to be ‘on-go’ from the drop of the green flag. There shouldn’t be any riding around. I’m not saying that we do that during the regular season, but there is a lot more give in the regular season and there’s not of that in the postseason and that’s good. That’s how it should be and that’s how I like racing. Intensity is high but that’s what we race for. I like it.”
Blaney enters the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with one victory, three top-fives, 10 top-10s, and one pole position this season. At Charlotte, he has an average finish of 26.20. Blaney has yet to finish inside the top-10 at the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval.
After the reseeding, Blaney sits ninth in the Playoff Standings, behind the final transfer spot by two points. Fellow Ford Performance driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. currently holds the final transfer spot. Not only is this Blaney’s first Playoffs, but it is also the first time that the historic Wood Brothers Racing Team is in the Playoffs.
Now Blaney and everyone at Wood Brothers Racing will have to work hard in their attempt to compete for their first drivers’ championship in the history of the organization.