Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney in the No.12 Menards Ford Fusion claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series championship at Phoenix on Sunday.
In a wild race which saw Christopher Bell in the No.20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota eliminated from the Championship Four following a mechanical failure, while TrackHouse Racing’s Ross Chastain took victory but the day belonged to Blaney and Penske.
“I get emotional, “Thank you so much. What an awesome year. Thanks for giving me a shot.”
Blaney, who started the race from 15th place came home just ahead of his championship rivals, Kyle Larson and William Byron who started the race from pole.
Brad Keselowski who returned to Phoenix following the birth of his son on Saturday commented on Blaney’s championship win saying:
Ryan’s earned this every step of the way and I’m glad I got to be a small part of Ryan’s career from the beginning. “He’s earned what he’s got and it’s so good so see that.”
Chase Elliott went up on stage following the race to congratulate Blaney and speaking following this Blaney said:
To have him come up on stage was special. He’s been an amazing friend to me and a great competitor and it’s cool to have that championship we can share now.”
It was great at the end of the race as the drivers went into pitroad several drove their cars around Blaney to congratulate him.
Roger Penske who was on Blaney’s stand for the race was delighted to see his driver win the championship.
Just super proud of the effort by everybody at Team Penske who put tons and tons of hours into hard work. No one really got down. They just put their heads down and they decided to really put in a lot of work, and it showed up, especially these Playoffs, especially the last five weeks.
“So cool to have all their hard work pay off, so they should be proud.”
That pride is something Blaney can count on.
“I think his limits are the sky, to be honest with you. “He gets in that class with [four-time Indy 500 winner Rick] Mears. He’s a soft-spoken guy, really, but when he gets behind the wheel, like Joey [Logano], when he puts his hat on, don’t get in his way. I think he showed that today.
“He’s only better and better. He’s got the confidence. He’s a leader. He’s a winner and a champion.”
The NASCAR championship win for Blaney capped a great year for Team Penske who also celebrated winning their 19 Indianapolis 500 with Josef Newgarden taking his first Indy 500 win in May.
It was a great final full-time NASCAR Cup Series race for veteran Kevin Harvick in the No.4 Bush Light Stewart Haas Racing Ford as he came home in seventh place.