The NASCAR Cup Series heads north on Sunday for the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway. There are multiple drivers with a history of success at the track, but Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney has yet to reach Victory Lane at the one-mile concrete oval. Now he is providing an explanation as to why the track is so difficult.
“We run into it at Bristol with the concrete tracks building up rubber,” Blaney told media members on Tuesday. “Obviously, everyone sees it. As we get running there, the track gets really black, and that’s just the rubber getting put down on it. It makes your car change a lot on a restart to even 10-15 laps on it.
“It’s really important to keep in mind what you think the track is gonna do as you get laps on it. As the track changes, your car is going to change. The people on the teams and the drivers who can stay ahead of that are really good.”
The rubber buildup on the track is not the only difficult aspect of racing at Dover. Blaney also explained that the corners are unique in that the drivers drop into them and then climb back out on the exit. He compared the movement to falling off a cliff before heading back up, explained that the g-forces on the car and the driver are intense and can lead to wrecks.
Blaney has 10 starts at the Monster Mile
Blaney has raced at Dover multiple times throughout his Cup career — six with Team Penske and four with Wood Brothers Racing. He has only cracked the top-10 twice during these races, finishing eighth in 2016 and 2018. He has three other finishes outside the top 30, including 35th in 2019 due to a suspension issue.
While he did not crack the top 10 during the 2020 doubleheader, Blaney did turn in solid performances overall. He started 20th in one race before finishing 14th. He then started seventh in the second Dover race, finishing 12th.
“I thought we had a couple decent runs there last year,” Blaney added. “I don’t think we’ve been in contention for a win, but we learned a lot of stuff this year where we can go back and see what we got. I’m looking forward to this weekend trying to get another Miles [trophy]. That was an Xfinity one, so hopefully, we can get a Cup one here.”
Blaney has a cushion in the playoff race
The Team Penske driver has the goal of reaching Victory Lane at a track where he has struggled in the past. If he is unable to achieve this, he will still remain in the thick of the playoff race. Blaney set himself up by winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Week 6, passing Kyle Larson late to take the checkered flag.
This win essentially locked Blaney into the playoffs, but he has only continued to turn in strong performances to keep himself well above the cutoff line. He has six top-10 finishes, two top-fives, and three stage wins. Blaney also has led 229 laps, helping him accrue 405 points through 12 races. He currently sits in fifth place, just behind teammate Joey Logano.
Blaney will head to the track on Sunday with a favorable starting position based on his previous performances. He will line up on the fourth row next to defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott. Martin Truex Jr. will lead the field to green while Denny Hamlin joins him on the front row. The race will take place at 2 p.m. ET and will air on Fox Sports 1.