Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ryan Blaney is standout NASCAR rookie in young season

Ryan Blaney has two straight top-10 finishes in Sprint Cup.

Ryan Blaney has two straight top-10 finishes in Sprint Cup.

The preseason hype over NASCAR's rookie drivers went primarily to Chase Elliott, who slid into the coveted seat vacated by Jeff Gordon.

It has been Ryan Blaney who has been most impressive through the first four races of the season.

Blaney heads into Auto Club Speedway at Fontana, Calif., for Sunday's Auto Club 400 searching for his third straight top-10 Sprint Cup finish. He was sixth in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas and 10th in the Good Sam 500 at Phoenix, and he sits 12th in the Chase for the Championship standings as the series shifts to California for the final stop in a three-race West Coast swing.

"You've seen Ryan battle through adversity during the last two races and end with solid finishes," crew chief Jeremy Bullins said. "Very few races play out perfectly. There is usually something to overcome, and we did that the last two weeks."

Blaney, 22, has never raced on the 2-mile oval. He'd raced at some level at each of the first four venues on the NASCAR schedule. "It makes you a little cautious the first handful of laps having no experience on a track," Blaney said. "So it will take a few runs to get comfortable. Most drivers seem to love Fontana. It's a very wide racetrack with multiple options, and that's what drivers like."

NASCAR PENALTIES: NASCAR issued written warnings Wednesday to the teams of Landon Cassill, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. for issues at Phoenix last weekend. Stenhouse's warning is the first of the season for the Roush-Fenway Racing team, which was flagged for failing prerace inspections three times. The penalty is the loss of 15 minutes of practice time today at Auto Club Speedway. Cassill and Truex's teams each received their second warnings of the year. Cassill's car failed prequalifying template inspection twice, and Truex's car failed prerace laser inspection twice. Every fourth warning a race team receives results in the loss of pit selection.

GANASSI LE MANS LINEUP: Chip Ganassi Racing has finalized its lineup for the team's debut in the Le Mans 24 Hours sports car race, and it includes IndyCar drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon.

Bourdais is from Le Mans and will share the No. 68 Ford GT with Joey Hand and Dirk Muller in the race June 15-19. Dixon, the reigning IndyCar champion, will make his Le Mans debut with Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook in the team's No. 69 Ford.

"I've been in the car a few times in testing so I know we have a great race car here," Dixon said.

Bourdais has 10 previous Le Mans starts and participated in the development of the Ford that will compete. He also ran with Hand and Muller in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Mercedes scolds Hamilton: Lewis Hamilton has a tendency to frustrate his Formula One team's sponsors by promoting or wearing rival brands. As a fashion aficionado and bad-boy of the F1 paddock, the world champion Mercedes driver doesn't like to play by the rules, especially when it comes to clothing. But when sportswear giant Puma and clothing supplier Hugo Boss are paying to sponsor F1's dominant team, they expect star drivers to be wearing their products. "It's constantly monitored," Caroline McGrory, Mercedes director of legal and commercial affairs, said at a Law In Sport seminar in London. "I always have to send … messages on race weekends telling Lewis to stop wearing his bright yellow Louis Vuitton trainers when he should be wearing his Puma trainers."

.FAST FACTS

NHRA Gatornationals

When/where: Today-Sunday, Gainesville Raceway

Schedule: Today, qualifying, 12:45 and 4:15 p.m.; Saturday, qualifying, noon and 3:15 p.m.; Sunday, final eliminations, 11 a.m.

TV: Today, 9 p.m., and Saturday, 6:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1 (taped highlights); Sunday, 1 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Tickets: $42-$155; kids 12 and under free in general admission areas with paid adult; toll-free 1-800-884-6472, nhra.com/tickets.

Preview: The Pro Stock Motorcycle class makes its season debut at the event, and the weekend could have its first 200-mph pass. Reigning world champ Andrew Hines is one of four riders to have exceeded 199 mph. Hector Arana Jr. clocked the class' fastest speed, 199.88 mph last year in Charlotte. … In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett, the class' most recent first-time winner, goes for two in a row in her Quaker State/Bob Vandergriff Racing dragster. … The KB Racing Pro Stock team goes for its third straight win of the season in the new-look class, which this year has adapted fuel injection as part of a new rules package. … This also is the season-opening race for the Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Troy Coughlin Sr. is the defending champion.

Source: nhra.com

Ryan Blaney is standout NASCAR rookie in young season 03/17/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2016 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Joe Maddon: What my time in Tampa Bay meant — and still means — to me

    The Heater

    Editor's note: The Rays next week in Chicago will meet up for the first time with former manager Joe Maddon, who is in his third year leading the Cubs after nine with the Rays. In advance of the Tuesday-Wednesday series, we asked Maddon to share his thoughts in a column on what his time in Tampa Bay meant to …

    Joe Maddon waits to greet B.J. Upton after Upton's home run in Game 2 of the ALCS in 2008 at Tropicana Field. [Times files (2008)]
  2. Jameis Winston held his pro day at Florida State's indoor practice facility. His pro team will be getting one soon.
  3. Rays series preview: Who are the Pirates?

    Blogs

    After an off day Monday, the Rays head on the road to PNC Park for a three-game interleague series against the Pirates. Here's the information you need to know about Pittsburgh before the action kicks off.

    Record: 35-41, fourth in NL Central

    Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, left, has rebounded from a rough start, while fellow outfielder Gregory Polanco, right, has fallen off recently.
  4. Countryside alum A.J. Andrews lands in ESPN's annual body issue (w/video)

    Softballpreps

    A.J. Andrews has taken over the spotlight in softball. Last year, the former Countryside High and LSU standout became the first female to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in the award's 59-year existence.

    Former Countryside and LSU softball standout A.J. Andrews will be among 23 athletes to be featured in ESPN The Magazine's body issue. "I have a really ripped back," Andrews says while laughing in the video. [Photo from video]

  5. James Wilder Jr. back at running back...in Canada

    Blogs

    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.