I wrote earlier this week how Phoenix could be Penske’s kryptonite this week. Brad Keselowski had just one top five finish since 2015. Joey Logano had four straight finishes outside of the top 10. Ryan Blaney had never scored a top five on this Phoenix track.
But, after all the preliminary action was done on Saturday, it appeared that Penske may continue their season dominance at one of their historically worst tracks.
Instead, water found its level.
Keselowski had early race problems and finished 19th. Logano, finished 10th. Blaney though, started on the pole and led the second most laps (95) and finished third.
It was much needed for Blaney though. He finished 23rd in Daytona and 22nd in each of the last two weeks. Now, he’s back on track with a top five, his first at Phoenix.
It was nearly a result that didn’t come. See, Blaney had to pit for a second time in just a handful of laps on Lap 198 for a loose lugnut. Luckily for him, a caution flew on Lap 218 for a Chase Elliott spin. Then, we’d see two more quick cautions on Lap 225 and 232 for Ryan Preece.
That allowed Blaney to work strategy to get back to the front and he’d remain there the rest of the way.
The last two weeks, Blaney has had speed but tire problems in Atlanta and Vegas negated that. This weekend, his speed was finally rewarded.