KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Much like Dale Earnhardt taking inspiration from John Elway after the latter’s Super Bowl XXXII win over the Green Bay Packers, Ryan Blaney may take a cue from Martin Truex Jr. with snapping a long winless streak.
After Truex snapped a 54-race winless streak, Blaney hopes to be the next NASCAR Cup Series competitor to end his 57-race victory drought.
Certainly, the 29-year-old Hartford Township, Ohio native has been decent at the 1.5-mile track with three top fives and seven top 10 finishes, good enough for an average finish of 16.4, 15th best among average drivers.
Notably, Blaney has picked up his performances in the past three weeks. With finishes of seventh or better since the NOCO 400 at Martinsville, the driver of the No. 12 Menards/Moen Ford Mustang entry, fielded by Team Penske, has jumped from 10th to fifth in the points standings.
However, consistency can only go so far in today’s NASCAR Cup Series as Blaney can attest with last year’s regular season finale at Daytona. He persevered to a 15th place finish despite the heavy damage to his car from a grinding crash, besting Truex by points.
A win would do a lot of good for Blaney especially if it happens in Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET on FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Although it remains to be seen if there will be multiple winners before this year’s regular season finale at Daytona, getting a win in the early going will be a huge catalyst and sigh of relief for the Jonathan Hassler-led team.
Prior to qualifying 10th for Sunday’s race, Blaney was midpack in terms of his practice showing, posting the 18th fastest time but 13th best 10 lap consecutive effort.
It is no secret that the Ford teams have struggled compared to their rival OEMs in Chevrolet and Toyota. That said, the 10th year Cup racer noted how his team and Ford allies have hopefully made some gains since the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas in March.
“Gosh, it’s our first mile-and-a-half in a long time,” Blaney said. “I felt like we had a lot of work to do after Vegas, for sure, as a Blue Oval company.
“I thought we were a little bit behind where we needed to be, but that was super early in the year and we were still kind of learning this new nose we got.”
Given the plethora of tracks since the most recent, pure intermediate track race, Blaney sees the two month layover with a balancing act between idealism and realism.
“I think time off from those places has two sides to it: It’s good that you can spend time and really refine where we need to get better, work on it, but then you also want to test it on the track and you don’t know until you get there,” he said.
“But, I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good test. Hopefully, we’ve improved on the mile-and-a-half stuff and can apply it there.”