DOVER, Del. – Fast pit work gave Ryan Blaney the lead of Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Dover Int’l Speedway and a fast car allowed the 23-year-old to keep it all the way to the finish.
After polesitter William Byron wired the opening stage of the ‘Use Your Melon’ Drive Sober 200, Blaney beat Byron off pit road on lap 64 and never looked back the rest of the day, leading all but one of the final 137 laps en route to victory at the ‘Monster Mile’.
The win was the sixth of Blaney’s XFINITY career, his first NASCAR victory at Dover and his first of the season in the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske.
“I can’t say enough about this team; I’ve had a handful of starts with them this year and we’ve run second … I can’t even count how many times,” said Blaney in victory lane. “These guys with Team Penske deserve to win and they deserve the best. I can’t thank them enough for all the hard work they do.”
“It’s very cool to be here in victory lane, I’ve never won here at Dover. I’d always wanted a (Miles the) Monster trophy when I was a kid and I’m really excited to finally have one of those. It’s pretty cool.”
The race got off to a rocky start, with three cautions in the first 29 laps, but following a restart on lap 30 the only slowdowns for the rest of the 200-mile race were the two stage breaks at laps 60 and 120.
Blaney was uncontested out front, driving out to a 4.852-second victory, while Justin Allgaier overhauled Byron for second on the race’s final restart at lap 128 and held the runner-up position all the way to the finish.
The effort gives Allgaier a three-point lead in the championship heading into the final race of the opening playoff round next Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“All in all, our day was good,” said Allgaier. “Our car was good, but we just needed a little short run speed. We fired off a little bit slower than I would have liked. Luckily I was able to maintain second and stay ahead of William at the end there, and that was the difference maker.”
“We knew the long run was going to be our strength but (crew chief) Jason (Burdett) and the guys did a good job on the adjustments and the pit crew got me out where I needed to be and put us in position to have a good day. … We’ve got one more race at Charlotte before the end of this round and hopefully we can have another solid day there.”
Byron completed the podium after leading the first 62 laps Saturday and banking a playoff point for winning the first stage.
“Man, we had a good car, but I feel like we just needed a couple restarts on the outside (to be able to advance back forward),” Byron explained. “Overall, though, this was a really good day for us. This was the solid day that we needed and the car had a lot of speed.”
“It was just hard to pass, with (the track) being cold and one groove on the bottom. I felt like if we could have been out front, we would have been really good … but it was a really strong day for everyone on this team and we’ll move on to Charlotte.”
Daniel Hemric and Brennan Poole finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Matt Tifft rallied from damage sustained in a lap six crash, charging from the back of the field to come home in sixth, with Daniel Suarez crossing the line seventh after leading two laps on pit road.
Cole Custer, Elliott Sadler and Brendan Gaughan completed the top 10.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series concludes the first round of its playoffs with the Drive For The Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…