The playoffs are about survival and advancing, and for Blaney, he and his team did just that in round one.
It didn’t mean he was content, though.
“Our goal was to survive … but you just can’t lay over and take it,” Blaney expressed. “You have to try and do your just the best you can and try and get some points for the next round. I just go to each race and try and win it. I don’t really look at the week after. Just try do the best with the weekend in the moment.”
Blaney and the Wood Brothers have had to contend all season long with Toyota’s stellar group, that has been led by Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, but has also seen Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth show flashes of brilliance.
Kyle Larson has led the Chevrolet camp in terms of consistency, though Jimmie Johnson has three wins and Kasey Kahne has one for Hendrick Motorsports.
With the four Toyotas and Larson appearing to be the frontrunners to advance, Blaney said he felt that he was racing for one of three available spots in the next round.
“Honestly, you do kind of look at it like that. Personally, there’s three teams that have been the class of the Cup Series all season,” Blaney admitted. “I think you guys know who the three teams that have been there, especially showing muscle the last few months. You almost look at it that way. You never know what can happen and who can get knocked out or get in. It’s just circumstances.”
“I really don’t look at it that way. I really try not to focus on only one spot in the final four. I just try to get to the next round, focus on each weekend individually and just try and do our job and move on to the next one. I think that’s the best way to go about things … especially the way the systems are now.”
He added that overall, the No. 21 Ford team needs to step up just a little bit more if they are going to make it further in the playoffs.
“Those (top) guys have run great all year. You have to respect them for it. … We need to get out team better,” Blaney said. “We need to be better: whether it’s getting the cars faster, me needing to be better, or our execution on pit road needing to be better. We can improve a handful of things. Hopefully we can make a little bit of a march towards those top three cars. It will be difficult to do, but I have faith in us. Hopefully we can do it.”
Blaney was second-fastest with his Discount Tire Ford in XFINITY Series final practice on Friday, a good sign f continued momentum following his Dover win last weekend with the No. 22 team.
Qualifying for the Drive for the Cure 300 was cancelled due to weather, and the starting lineup was set by car owner points, putting Blaney on the outside of the front row.
The third-generation driver rolls off 15th on Sunday for the Bank of America 500.
About the Writer
Tom Baker is the owner and senior editor of Race Chaser Online, as well as creator of the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show — airing Thursdays at 7 p.m. Eastern on the Performance Motorsports Network.
With 27 years of motorsports media, marketing and managerial experience, Baker serves as the coach and mentor for several next generation racers, as well as Race Chaser Online’s passionate lineup of rising motorsports journalists.
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