Ryan Blaney fended off Kevin Harvick in the final 10 laps to win the Pocono 400 for his first NASCAR Cup Series win.
Blaney passed pole-sitter Kyle Busch on the frontstretch to take the lead for good and then outdueled Harvick. Both Busch and Harvick were seeking their first win of the year.
“It’s hard man to process,” Blaney told Fox Sports 1. “First we had to pass Kyle and that was tough. He was on older tires. He was struggling off of (Turn) 1, and were able to get under him there. Then we had to hold Kevin off, and he was really fast all day. I just didn’t want to make a mistake. That would’ve been the worst thing to do. I got to thank (Harvick) for racing me clean, that was nice of him to do.”
Blaney is the third first-time winner this season after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Talladega) and Austin Dillon (Coke 600).
Blaney, driving the No. 21 Ford, gave Wood Brothers Racing their first win since the 2011 Daytona 500 with Trevor Bayne. It’s the 99th win for the team and just its third of the 21st Century.
A malfunction in the team’s radio system prevented Blaney from talking to his team all day. It also kept Blaney from initiating his desired celebration.
“I wanted to pick (team owners) Eddie and Len (Wood) up,” Blaney said. “I wanted to find them and pick them up, but it figures the one race we don’t have radio communication we end up winning it. Maybe we should turn the radio off more often, but I wanted to try to find Eddie and Len. I wanted to give them a ride to victory lane. That would have been cool, but maybe if we can get another one we’ll be able to do that.”
Blaney, the son of former Cup driver Dave Blaney, is the seventh driver to earn their first Cup win with Wood Brothers Racing.
Completing the top five was Harvick, Erik Jones, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski.
Harvick’s result is his best of the season and his fifth top five.
“There at the end we couldn’t get in the corner like we needed to all day,” Harvick told FS1. “(Blaney) could charge the corner, so I needed for him to make a mistake and try to get underneath him on the exit of the corner. Never made a mistake and did a great job.”
Stage 1 winner: Kyle Busch
Stage 2 winner: Kyle Larson
MORE: Race results
MORE: Points standings
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Rookie Erik Jones earned his best result and his first top five in 17 Cup starts … Kurt Busch earned his second top five of the year and his first since winning the Daytona 500 … Kyle Busch led a race-high 100 laps and won the first stage, but dropped back to ninth after being passed by Blaney … Martin Truex Jr. led five laps and finished sixth after starting from the rear because of an engine change.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray wrecked out with five laps left in Stage 2. It’s McMurray’s third DNF and Johnson’s second … Dale Earnhardt Jr. left the race on Lap 59 with a mechanical problem after a bad shift on a restart … Kasey Kahne also crashed due to brake issues with 19 laps left in the race … Darrell Wallace Jr. finished 26th, one lap down in his Cup debut after being caught speeding on pit road three times.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think it exceeds the dream a little bit. I grew up watching my dad race on this race track and it’s so cool to get the Wood Brothers in victory lane … and to do it here at a race track that is really close to Ohio – a home to me – is pretty awesome.” – Ryan Blaney after earning his first Cup Series win.
NOTABLE: The accidents involving Johnson and McMurray resulted in a 23-minute red flag period and a one-lap shootout to end the stage, which was won by Kyle Larson.
WHAT’S NEXT: FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway at 3 pm ET on June 18 on Fox Sports 1.