Ryan Blaney provided more evidence that Penske Racing’s No. 22 Ford can win no matter who’s driving.
Blaney earned his first Nationwide Series victory and another win for the team’s Mustang, holding off Austin Dillon and surviving several late cautions to win Saturday night’s 300-mile race at Kentucky Speedway.
Blaney, who drives for Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski in the Camping World Truck Series, used his second start in the No. 22 to claim the car’s 10th victory of 2013 and a season sweep at Kentucky. Keselowski drove the car to victory in June.
Blaney’s win included tense moments over the final 40 laps, from beating Dillon off pit road with a two-tire stop on lap 166 to reclaiming the lead from Dillon after losing it on the restart.
More tests followed, including a near-brush with teammate Sam Hornish Jr.’s loose Ford and one final restart.
“We just had an awesome, awesome Mustang,” Blaney said. “The team just kept getting the car better and better and as the race went on. Those restarts were tough. Luckily, I had a good enough car to hold them off.”
Dillon had hope on several restarts, only to let the son of NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney quickly snatch it away on several late restarts.
The final one typified the futility: Blaney blasted out on lap 191 to open up a three car-length lead and didn’t look back.
“He did everything right,” Dillon said of Blaney’s restarts. “He did everything he could to hold me off and the car was better once he got out front for sure. I felt like if we could’ve got out front we could hold him off for eight laps, but disappointed that we couldn’t quite clear him.”
Hornish led 65 laps after starting on the pole, while Dillon led 32.