Ryan Blaney can be very hard on himself if he makes a mistake behind the wheel of a race car. He was really down after the July 25 Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he slipped in Turn 2 while leading the last lap and lost to Kyle Busch.
Next, on Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, he had another disappointing setback when he was penalized for jumping the restart of the Camping World Truck Series race while leading the event and fell off the lead lap.
But this time Blaney got a reprieve. A late-race caution allowed him to motor past leader Matt Crafton and get the win. It was his fourth career truck series win and his first at Bristol, where he also has a win in the Xfinity Series. This victory came at the wheel of the No. 29 Ford owned by Brad Keselowski.
“To do that in that fashion, coming from a lap down and being able to drive through the field like that, says a lot about our race team and a lot about what as an organization we can do,” Blaney said.
Another youngster, Cole Custer, could sympathize with Blaney. While Blaney was working his way back through the field, Custer was up front, leading a race-high 111 laps before he ran into the spinning truck of Spencer Gallagher. The 17-year-old Custer wound up 16th.
For the 21-year-old Blaney, Wednesday’s race was the start of a three-race weekend at Bristol. He’ll drive a Team Penske Ford in Friday’s Xfinity Series race and the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford in Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race.
Waltrip team folds: It appears Michael Waltrip is about to join a list of Sprint Cup drivers who tried to make the transition to team owner only to have to eventually close the doors of their race shop. It happened to his brother Darrell, to Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott, Cale Yarborough and others.
It was announced Wednesday that Michael Waltrip Racing, the team that brought Toyota to the Sprint Cup Series and seemed poised to become one of the sport’s powerhouses, won’t field race cars in 2016. MWR and driver Clint Bowyer have agreed to go their separate ways at the end of this season. Team co-owner Rob Kaufmann already has announced his intentions to join the Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates team next year.
The future of David Ragan, who drives the No. 55 for MWR, is unclear.
Speaking on a FOX broadcast from Bristol Motor Speedway, Waltrip said it was a sad day.
“I love the culture we’ve built there,” he said. “Our sponsors — they’re not sponsors; they’re partners. And our employees are our teammates. We just have the perfect workplace and unfortunately in 2016, we’re not going to be racing there.
“My hope is somebody wants to have a really nice shop full of really cool people that work together well and want to have a race team and we can provide that for them.”
Waltrip, who works as a racing broadcaster while making limited racing appearances, started fielding cars from a shop behind his house in Sherill’s Ford, N.C., in 1994. The organization grew to its peak in 2102 when Bowyer finished second in the Cup championship.
“We raced for a championship, Chase berths, race wins,” Waltrip said. “I’m thankful. I’m happy. It’s a great run that we’ve had. We’ll just see what’s next.”
Childress reaches millionth lap: One former driver who has been able to make ownership work is Richard Childress. This weekend Richard Childress Racing will complete its one millionth lap in NASCAR competition during Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at Bristol.
According to a team release, there have been 64 drivers who have raced for the organization in its 46 years in NASCAR.
Kevin Harvick, who now drives for Stewart-Haas Racing, has run the most laps for RCR (173, 383). The late Dale Earnhardt ran 163,750. Among the team’s active drivers, Paul Menard tops the list with 50,861, followed by Childress’ grandsons, Austin and Ty Dillon, who have run 40,155 and 18,436 respectively. Childress himself ran 49,663 laps.
“Finishing one million laps is hard to believe,” Childress said. “There have been a lot of good times, great wins and special memories through those million laps.”
Swindell recovering: Sprint car driver Kevin Swindell is recovering from injuries suffered in a crash during the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville, Iowa, last week. His family issued a statement saying that the 26-year-old driver is making progress after two surgeries for fractures in his back.
“Both surgeries have been successful and the doctors are heartened by his progress,” according to a statement published by the Des Moines Register. “The doctors are also running tests on and monitoring a spinal cord injury that Kevin received during the accident. We realize there is a long battle ahead, but Kevin has remained positive throughout the process and is prepared to fight to regain his health.”