Nineteen year old Ryan Blaney was in his 15th career NASCAR Nationwide Series start and he went to victory lane at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night for the first time in his NASCAR Nationwide Series career. Blaney became the fourth different driver to win in the #22 Penske Racing Ford in the Nationwide Series in 2013, joining Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger. The always modest Blaney had to endure several late race restarts in his victory. He described the feeling in victory lane.
"It's tough, really tough," Blaney said of the late race restarts. "I'm the fourth different driver to win in this car so that's pretty cool." Blaney also described the feeling of his first win. "I'm kinda speechless right now. It's just awesome to be doing this."
Austin Dillon finished in the second position with Matt Crafton finishing in the third position. Finishing fourth was Sam Hornish Jr with rookie Alex Bowman rounding out the top five. Drew Herring finished in the sixth position with Brian Vickers finishing seventh, Jeb Burton eighth in his first career Nationwide start, Cole Whitt ninth and Michael Annett rounded out the top ten.
The Kentucky 300 started with Sam Hornish Jr and Blaney on the front row, but it was Hornish who had the strong car early. Hornish shot out to the lead early and was well ahead of Blaney in second. On lap four Nelson Piquet Jr got into trouble and slammed the outside wall in turn three. Piquet had significant damage on his #30 Chevrolet and would fall off the pace before pitting on the competition caution on lap 25.
Meanwhile in the front of the pack Hornish was setting a blistering pace. He led by two seconds on lap 17 and appeared to be well on his way to victory. His teammate Blaney, however, wasn't having the same success. Blaney fell to fifth and right before the competition caution on lap 25 Blaney got loose and nearly hit the outside wall. He saved it and he would continue. All the leaders would pit under the races' first yellow flag and most of the field took two tires, including the top ten.
Sam Hornish Jr and Ryan Blaney led the field to green on lap 31 and Hornish again shot out to a lead. On that same lap Justin Allgaier and Parker Kligerman would get together and Allgaier nearly lost it but kept it off the wall and continued. Both cars had minimal damage after the contact. On lap 36 the races second caution flag would fly for Travis Pastrana. Pastrana lost control of his car after contact with Austin Dillon. He kept the car off the wall but had two flat tires after the spin and was forced to pit. Pastrana had little damage and would continue.
On lap 41 the race would restart with both Hornish and Blaney on the front row. Hornish led by a half second over his teammate by lap 45. His lead was just under a second on lap 61 when the races' third caution flag flew when Travis Pastrana crashed hard in turn four. Pastrana spun on his own and slammed the nose of his car into the outside wall ending his day. Pastrana finished in the 34th position.
The leaders would pit again and Austin Dillon and teammate Brian Scott led the field to green on lap 68. Ryan Blaney lined up third and Sam Hornish Jr was fourth. On that restart Kyle Larson came down pit road with problems. The #32 Chevrolet had a vibration and was forced to pit. It was just the beginning of Larson's problems. In the front of the pack, Austin Dillon led by over a second on lap 79. Blaney had gotten around Brian Scott for second and set his sights on Austin Dillon.
Dillon's lead would shrink to just over a half second on lap 92. By lap 100 Blaney had caught Dillon and on lap 101 Ryan Blaney had moved to the lead. Dillon wasn't going to let him by easy and pulled back to the lead off turn two. However, Blaney cleared the #3 Chevrolet by turn three and began to pull away from the field.
Meanwhile, Kyle Larson's day took a turn for the worst. He lost his brakes on his #32 Chevrolet and had major issues as he got pushed behind the wall. Larson would finish 33rd. By lap 104 Blaney's lead was over a second. Two laps later Blaney's lead would be erased when Harrison Rhodes blew up on the backstretch. Rhodes was driving the #23 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing and he finished 32nd.
The leaders would pit but on the lap 111 restart Elliott Sadler found himself in the lead for the first time. Sadler and his crew took two tires on his stop and found himself on the high side with Ryan Blaney alongside for the restart. Blaney would find himself in the lead when Brad Sweet spun causing the races' fifth caution. Sweet would not hit anything and would continue. Blaney would lead the field to green when the race would restart on lap 117.
Blaney pulled away from the field on the restart and had about a second lead by lap 124. On lap 124 Matt Crafton and Justin Allgaier would make contact resulting in Allgaier slamming the outside wall. The race would stay green but Allgaier would lose a ton of positions.
Blaney would continue his punishing pace and led by over three seconds on lap 144. On lap 150, Austin Dillon would begin cutting into Blaney's lead. By lap 160 Blaney's lead was down to two seconds. On lap 161 green flag pit stops began with just one car diving off the track to pit road. On 162 Brad Sweet would hit the outside wall hard after contact with Jeb Burton.Sweet's car had major damage and he would be done for the day. He finished 30th.
The leaders would pit under the caution and most cars would take two tires including leaders Blaney and Dillon. On the lap 172 restart Blaney and Dillon would have a great battle and Dillon was fighting hard. Dillon would get loose and almost crash on lap 173 but he would continue with Blaney pulling away from the field. On lap 174 Jeffery Earnhardt would spin in the #79 Go Green Racing Ford. Earnhardt had little damage on his Mustang and he would continue, finishing 25th.
On the lap 176 restart it was Ryan Blaney and teammate Sam Hornish Jr on the front row. Blaney would pull away from his teammate and he was the leader when Regan Smith spun on lap 181 causing the races' eighth yellow flag. Smith wouldn't hit anything and would continue. He finished 12th.
Blaney and Hornish were on the front row again on lap 185. Hornish hit the bottom of the apron and slid as he was side by side with Blaney. The two almost made contact but Hornish just missed Blaney and the wall during the slide and he would continue but drop to eighth. On lap 186 Parker Kligerman slammed the outside wall hard, causing the race to be slowed for the ninth time. Kligerman and Cole Whitt made contact, sending the #77 Toyota into the wall. Kligerman was not pleased with Whitt and made that clear in an interview with ESPN. Kligerman finished 29th.
The race restarted again with Blaney and Austin Dillon on the front row on lap 191. Blaney pulled away from Dillon and won by two seconds.
Other notables in the field included Brian Scott in 11th, Elliott Sadler in 14th, Trevor Bayne in 15th and Johanna Long in 16th. Justin Allgaier finished in the 17th spot with Joey Coulter finishing in 18th.
Sam Hornish Jr continues to be the points leader, although Austin Dillon chopped his lead to 15 points with just six races left in the season. Sitting third in the standings is Regan Smith who is 45 points behind with Elliott Sadler fourth in the standings 54 points back. Fifth in the points is Brian Vickers 60 points behind. Sitting sixth in the standings is Justin Allgaier and Brian Scott is seventh. Eighth in the standings is Trevor Bayne with Kyle Larson ninth and Parker Kligerman rounding out the top ten.
The next race on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule is the OneMain Finanical 200 at Dover International Speedway on September 28th.
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