Season Review: Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney

"To win a race, that was pretty great. It's been a fun year overall and it’s kind of bittersweet to see it come to an end. Still, I'm happy for what's next." (Photo: Getty Images)

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2017 Race-by-Race Results | 2017 Detailed Statistics

Ryan Blaney made the playoffs for the first time in his career to give Wood Brothers Racing its best finish in the standings since 1994.

Racing in his third and final season, and second in full-time competition, with the sport’s oldest continuously operating team, Blaney posted career-best numbers in just about every statistical category that included his first Cup Series win.

"It's been a fun three years and I'll always remember it," Blaney said. "They're humble people and a humble family. All they want to do is race and that's how I grew up. That's what made our relationship special."

Blaney, who will move to Team Penske next year, started the season strong with a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500. He went on to record three more top-10 finishes before scoring his first career win in the 14th race of the year at Pocono Raceway in June.

Ryan Blaney"To win a race, that was pretty great," Blaney said. "It's been a fun year overall and it’s kind of bittersweet to see it come to an end. Still, I'm happy for what's next."

Blaney became the 18th different driver to win for the Wood Brothers, who now sit at 99 career team wins.

"It's a privilege to be part of the folks that have won with them," Blaney said. "That will be something I'll always remember."

Along with the race win, Blaney finished first in three stages including the spring stop at Texas Motor Speedway - where he swept the opening two stages. He dominated that race, leading 148 laps, but a late turn of events that included his pit stop at the end of Stage 2 relegated him to a 12th-place overall finish.

Blaney followed the Texas race by winning his first career pole - first of two on the season - in the next event at a 1.5-mile track - Kansas Speedway. Blaney led 83 laps, won the second stage and finished fourth in that race. In fact, Kansas is the only track where Blaney has multiple top fives (3) and he also scored a third-place finish there in the fall.

The three stage wins during the regular season helped place Blaney as the ninth seed entering the Round of 16 at Chicagoland Speedway with eight playoff points. Blaney's best consecutive run of recording stage points came in the playoffs when he earned top 10-finishes in nine consecutive Stage 1 or 2s from the second stage at Charlotte through the second stage at Texas. That run also included his fourth stage win of the season at Talladega Superspeedway.

“You have to start off these races so good to try to run up there and collect those points,” Blaney said. “We’ve done that. We know how to do it.”

Blaney earned five top 10s in the playoffs, including three straight at Kansas, Martinsville Speedway and Texas. He advanced all the way through the Round of 8 and missed the cutoff for the Championship 4 by 23 points and finished ninth in the final standings.

Ryan Blaney"It was a great year," Blaney said. "We wish we could have fought for a championship at Homestead but I was really proud of the effort we put forth this year."

In 1994 the Wood Brothers finished sixth in the standings with Morgan Shepherd. Blaney's 301 laps led this season is the most by the team since 1982 when Neil Bonnet was up front for 412 laps.

“We’ve enjoyed our time with Ryan, and we can’t say enough about what he and the crew have done to elevate our race team,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “They will always be a big part of our Wood Brothers racing family.”

Blaney and crew chief Jeremy Bullins now shift back to Team Penske with the No. 12 Ford team in 2018.

"There’s a lot of personnel that is going to be the same so that will be really nice, but we have a few new members that will come on," Blaney said. "Just trying to get everybody knowing each other and working well together is the big thing. Jeremy Bullins is a good guy for that. He definitely kind of holds court very well. He's a great leader and I think he does a good job at everyone starting to work well together."  

Click to View Season Reviews for Each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Driver

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