16 September 2012
Trucks: Blaney becomes youngest-ever race winner
Ryan Blaney set a new record for the youngest winner of a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race by claiming the chequered flag in the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night.
Ryan Blaney became the 12th different winner in the 15 races so far in the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and in doing so the 18-year-old became the youngest-ever winner in the championship beating previous record holder Kyle Busch who was a positively antique 20 when he claimed his maiden win in the series at Charlotte in 2005.
In his third start since joining the series with Brad Keselowski Racing, Blaney began the American Ethanol 200 Saturday night race at Iowa Speedway on the front row alongside polesitter Parker Kligerman, who quickly built up a commanding lead during the first stint of the race ahead of Blaney, James Buescher, Johnny Sauter and Nelson Piquet Jr. until the first caution of the night on lap 24 for Ryan Lynch spinning in turn 4.
The pit stops handed Buescher a brief turn in the lead but the track was back under caution eight laps later for contact when Timothy Peters collected Matt Crafton while trying to pass him on the front straight on lap 36. Peters' crew got to work fixing the right side damage on the #17, and while he was able to keep the truck on the lead lap it already wasn't looking like it was going to be a good night for the championship leader. Ultimately he fell foul of a faulty battery and an overheating engine and finished two laps off the lead in 19th place.
Kyle Bush Motorsport's new boy Drew Herring emerged as the leader through the pit stops and into the next green flag stint, and he stayed out in front of Justin Lofton, Buescher, Sauter and Piquet to the next caution on lap 55 which was for John Wes Townley spinning on dirty tyres in turn 2. Lofton picked up the lead for the restart, but once the track went green it was Kligerman who was immediately back in control again for the next 78 laps.
That spanned two more caution periods: a turn 2 accident on lap 69 that saw Ron Hornaday Jr. get in the wall and sustain heavy race-ending damage to the rear of the #9; and a fifth caution of the evening on lap 95 for a back stretch spin for Caleb Roark that ended up with the car slamming into the wall, rebounding and making heavy contact with Lofton who just happened to be passing by at the time. Both drivers were out of the race as a result of the wreck.
Kilgerman held off Sauter at the restart while Piquet, Todd Bodine and Buescher engaged in a wild three-wide battle for the next few positions. Miguel Palado, Blaney and Coulter filled out the remainder of the top eight just after the midpoint of the proceedings as things settled down once more. Kligerman continued to lead until he hit his fuel window with no cautions to help him out, forcing him onto pit lane on lap 138 having opted to stay out under the previous caution.
That gave Sauter the lead for the next dozen laps, and when he came in for his own pit stop it handed the lead for the first time of the night to Ryan Blaney, who along with Cale Gale and Jeff Choquette were the only trucks still to pit and consequently also still on the lead lap at the 0.875-mile short oval.
That gave Blaney a key advantage when a debris caution came out on lap 165, what would prove to be just the first of four cautions that Blaney would have to manage from the lead. He confessed to having trouble getting the hang of it at first.
"Whatever I did, starting fast or starting slow, I could just not keep the tyres from spinning," said Blaney. But he got better with practice: "I was able to at least hold my own into one and that was really all we needed to do."
Ron Hornaday Jr.
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