Ryan Blaney wins, secures spot in NASCAR Cup championship

Associated Press

Ryan Blaney Revives His NASCAR Championship Hopes with Win at MartinsvilleOct 29, 2023, 06:20 PM ET4 Minute Read

Ryan Blaney was overcome with emotion back in May when the crowd chanted his name, “Blaney! Blaney! Blaney!” after he ended his 59-race losing streak with a victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Little did Blaney realize at the time that this win would kickstart his journey toward the NASCAR championship race.

Blaney’s triumph at the Coca-Cola 600 propelled him into the championship-deciding finale, which will take place at Phoenix Raceway. With his third win of the season at Martinsville Speedway, matching his personal best, Blaney secured his spot in the final four alongside Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, and William Byron.

“All you want is a shot at a championship. You get your shot when the playoffs start, if you make them. But your real shot is if you get to Phoenix, right?” Blaney expressed. “It’s just nice to have an opportunity to actually race for a championship. I don’t think you can ever count anybody else out, any team out. It’s about peaking at the right time, and our team is doing just that.”

Byron, who dominated the Cup Series with six wins this season, clinched the fourth and final spot in the championship race, triumphing over Denny Hamlin by just eight points. Despite a challenging race and a malfunctioning helmet fan, Byron persevered and secured his place in the final four.

The final four drivers, Larson, Bell, Blaney, and Byron, will battle it out at Phoenix Raceway. Larson aims to secure his second Cup title, while Bell looks to repeat his championship appearance from last year. Blaney and Byron will be racing for the Cup title for the very first time.

Hamlin entered the race at Martinsville in a must-win situation after a mechanical failure in the previous week’s race. Though he led for a significant portion of the race, Hamlin ultimately fell behind during the final pit stops and couldn’t regain his position. Hamlin, whose championship hopes were dashed in a similar fashion last year, expressed his disappointment but congratulated Blaney as the deserving contender.

Blaney, hailing from High Point, North Carolina, considered Martinsville Speedway his home track and had always dreamt of winning there. His victory fulfilled a childhood desire, as he reminisced about watching his father race and his longing for the iconic grandfather clock trophy.

The next and final race of the season will be held at Phoenix Raceway, where Larson, Bell, Blaney, and Byron will compete for the Cup championship. The driver with the highest finish among the final four contenders will claim the title. As defending champion Joey Logano has already been eliminated from the playoffs, the stage is set for an intense battle for the crown. Byron has previously tasted success at Phoenix, having won there earlier in the year.


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