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Ryan Blaney Vies for Second Atlanta Victory

Ryan Blaney hopes to snap a nearly two-year long winless drought in Sunday's Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo: Trish McCormack | The Podium Finish)

Ryan Blaney hopes to snap a nearly two-year long winless drought in Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Photo: Trish McCormack | The Podium Finish)

HAMPTON, Ga. – At some point, being in the right place at the right time will pay off for Ryan Blaney and his No. 12 BodyArmor Sport Water Ford Mustang team.

After four races, Blaney and his Team Penske crew have experienced a bit of everything. They have been tested, collected in moments not of their doing and contended for a win during a late race, Overtime restart.

The 29-year-old Hartford Township, Ohio native has showcased some speed and prowess at a variety of speedways. However, it has been nearly two years since he last won a NASCAR Cup Series points paying race.

It was a bit of a Helter Skelter experience for Blaney and his No. 12 team with the West Coast Swing. Kicking off the annual trip with a 26th at Fontana, Blaney improved his result to 13th at Las Vegas.

Last weekend, Blaney showcased some competitive form when he placed sixth in Stage 1 and eighth in Stage 2 before placing runner-up at Phoenix Raceway. On the surface, the third-generation racer had a solid, respectable outing in the extended United Rentals Work United 500.

On the other hand, Blaney had a more candid but precise perspective.

“Overall: Pretty good day,” Blaney said. “We got a lot better all day. We finished a little better than I thought we’d run. So, that was positive.”

Despite some recent criticisms and the perspective that Blaney has not fulfilled his potential like Kasey Kahne, the young racer has the makings to turn up the wick as one of the leading, veteran drivers within the Ford Performance camp.

Blaney's No. 12 ride sports some new colors. (Photo: Riley Thompson | The Podium Finish)

Blaney’s No. 12 ride sports some new colors. (Photo: Riley Thompson | The Podium Finish)

By all means, Blaney knows what it takes to contend for wins at Atlanta. He won in a riveting battle against Kyle Larson in the spring 2021 race and has four top fives in the past five Cup races at the 63-year-old venue.

Now, Blaney is focused on tallying his second Cup win at Atlanta and first in 568 days. Likewise, the Cup veteran would like nothing more than to score the first Cup win for Jonathan Hassler, his crew chief.

So far, Blaney is off to a strong start, literally, as he qualified third for Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 (3:00 p.m. ET on FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Notably, Blaney was one of eight Ford drivers who qualified in the race’s first four rows, a special feat last accomplished in 1965.

Presently, Blaney hopes to tally Ford’s first victory of the season. Regardless if it’s Daytona or Phoenix, Ford’s OEM rival, Chevrolet, have claimed the first four races of 2023.

If there is any comfort for Blaney and his Team Penske crew, the Ford Mustangs tend to take well to the superspeedway style tracks. From stellar coordination with green flag pit stops to drafting up despite lacking the numbers in allies, the Blue Ovals may have something to say about snapping Chevrolet’s winning ways.

Above all else, when considering the most recent Ford winner at Atlanta, look no further than Blaney. Perhaps Sunday’s race snaps some droughts for Blaney and the Ford banner.

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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