Blaney Remains In Playoff Picture

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney looks to advance in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs on Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Ryan Blaney looks to advance in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs on Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The Wood Brothers Racing driver enters the last race of Round 2 seventh in the standings. Despite his disappointing 18th-place finish last weekend in the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Blaney racked up stage points to solidify his spot in the playoff race.

"We didn’t get the finish we wanted, but we did what we had to do in the first two stages and it's put us in a position to move on if we run well at Kansas, a place I enjoy," Blaney said about this week’s trip to the 1.5-mile oval.

Finding that silver lining is echoed by crew chief Jeremy Bullins.

"At Talladega, we controlled what we could control, collected a lot of stage points and even though we wrecked at the end, we put ourselves above the cutline," he said.

There’s reason for optimism as the No. 21 team rolls into Kansas City. Blaney won his first Cup Series pole when the tour visited there back in May and turned that into a top-five finish. Blaney has three top-10 finishes at Kansas in his short Cup career, all the more reason he takes confidence into the weekend.

"It’s a track that suits this team well," Blaney said. "It's the fastest intermediate track we go to and tires don't fall off."

Blaney has a simple plan to continue that success and move on to the semifinal round of the playoffs. It starts with qualifying well on Friday afternoon and maintaining a running spot near the front of the field on Sunday.

"You have to start these races well, try to run up front and collect those stage points," Blaney explained. "We’ve done that. We know how to do it."

Bullins’ job is to have a car for Blaney to do just that, but the veteran crew chief also understands the need for changes to be made along the way to remain competitive.

"One key to success at Kansas is qualifying well and starting near the front as track position is big," he said. "It’s an aero-sensitive intermediate track and if you get track position, you can generally hold it."

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" will have live coverage of Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400, beginning at 2 p.m. (ET) - with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.

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