Fresh off win, Blaney wants to push for ti­tle

Driver hopes to get into con­tention with the top NASCAR con­tin­gent

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - SPORTS -

Dover, Del. Ryan Blaney kept the party rolling from his first win this sea­son long enough to stim­u­late busi­ness at his fa­vorite bar. He soaked in the cel­e­bra­tion from his check­ered flag on the ro­val at Char­lotte. Now he hopes to stamp him­self a con­tender in the next round of NASCAR’S play­offs.

Blaney, one of NASCAR’S blos­som­ing young stars, earned an au­to­matic spot in the sec­ond round when he zipped past Jim­mie John­son and Martin Truex Jr. for the sur­prise win on the speed­way and in­field road course blend.

Blaney had some fun at the ex­pense of a Fox Sports panel that pre­dicted he would fail to ad­vance out of both the first and sec­ond rounds of the three-race play­off rounds. He tweeted a clip of the stu­dio show where pan­elists left him out of the round of eight and wrote, “Sure hope to prove y’all wrong once again.”

“Yeah, to be hon­est with you I had a few to drink that night when I said that,” Blaney said, laugh­ing. “I saw that and it rubbed me the wrong way.”

The Team Penske driver got the last laugh at Char­lotte. But even he is not con­vinced one win au­to­mat­i­cally made him a ti­tle con­tender along with for­mer se­ries cham­pi­ons Truex, Kyle Busch, Brad Ke­selowski and Kevin Har­vick.

“I wouldn’t say we’re a cham­pi­onship fa­vorite,” he said. “I’d say we’re in the hunt, and hon­estly we’ve been in the hunt all year.”

The chase to­ward the ti­tle con­tin­ues Sun­day at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way. Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way and Kan­sas Speed­way are also in the sec­ond round.

The last four driv­ers stand­ing af­ter three rounds will race for the best fin­ish at Homestead­mi­ami Speed­way on Nov. 18 to be crowned the 2018 NASCAR Mon­ster En­ergy Cup Se­ries cham­pion.

Brian Law­der­milk / Getty Im­ages

Ryan Blaney ad­mits that his win at Char­lotte isn’t enough to stamp him a con­tender for the NASCAR crown, but he’s “in the hunt.”

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