Ryan Blaney: Pushing on superspeedways is a reality, but be sensible about it

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After slamming into the outside wall approaching Turn 1 at Daytona International Speedway in Thursday night‘s second Bluegreen Vacations Duel 150-mile qualifying race, Ryan Blaney was irate.

“Three times in a row here I‘ve been right-reared by someone else‘s awful push, so I‘m getting pretty sick of it,” Blaney said after the wreck. “People just have to be smart…

“It‘s a Duel race. Why are you shoving in the tri-oval? I don‘t get it, so just a shame we have to be the one with a tore-up race car when it‘s someone else‘s issue.”

The reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion acknowledged on Saturday morning that pushing has become a necessary part of superspeedway racing. He just wishes that some of his fellow competitors would be more sensible about it.

“Pushing is a huge part of the speedways now, right?” Blaney said on Saturday morning. “You see it more than ever. You see it more now than… I look back and the only time you pushed more was the tandem racing, but that was like solid connection being on somebody. Now, with the bumpers kind of being round, you see drivers get out of control more.

“I think you have to push hard, and I fully understand that. I push people hard, but I try to take care of people. As the pusher, you are responsible for the guy in front of you. You have just as much a responsibility to make sure that you don‘t shove the guy in front of you through somebody, and you have to understand where you have to let them go.

“If you are the third car in line, you have to let the second-place car in line go. You can‘t just shove ‘em through the guy leading the top lane, ‘cause then it gets ‘bumper cars,‘ and that‘s when people get turned.”

Brad Keselowski: Daytona is not the most fertile scouting ground

Dale Earnhardt Jr. first noticed Brad Keselowski when the Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing co-owner/driver outperformed the capabilities of his back marker car at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2007.

When Earnhardt decided to make a driver change on his JR Motorsports team later that season, he tapped Keselowski to replace Shane Huffman behind the wheel of the No. 88 NASCAR Xfinity Series Chevrolet.

Like Earnhardt, Keselowski has an eye for promising driving talent, but he wouldn‘t pick Daytona as the track to look for it. The random, unpredictable nature of the racing on superspeedways might skew the results, particularly if you‘re trying to evaluate a race winner.

“If I was like, ‘Let‘s go watch the ARCA, Truck, Xfinity races, and we‘re going to pick the next NASCAR Cup Series phenomenon,‘ I‘m not like, ‘Well, let‘s look who won Daytona last night. That‘s the guy I‘m going to pick,‘” Keselowski said. “The reality is that‘s not what you‘re going to do.

“You‘re going to look for the guy that made good moves and was calm in situations of duress. You‘re going to look for the guy that didn‘t speed down pit road or make a dumb mistake.

“That stuff carries over, the execution stuff, but probably not so much the pure race winner, where I think you look at most other races… fast forward a couple weeks to Vegas or Phoenix, and you‘re going to look at the guy who won the race like that‘s probably a guy I would need to scout a little more.”

Short Strokes and Notable Quotes

Here are some of the best quotes and one-liners gleaned from copious interviews prior to the DAYTONA 500:

“When it comes to the racing gods, I guess I‘m an atheist, because I don‘t believe in them.” — 2021 DAYTONA 500 winner Michael McDowell, who is well known for the faith that guides him.“I‘m glad it‘s not Daytona. I think Martinsville is more my speed.” — Team owner Rick Hendrick on learning he‘ll be the honorary pace car driver at Martinsville in April in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports.“Yeah, I wanted to break that streak.” — Kyle Larson, after being told there was a silver lining in his third-place qualifying effort on Wednesday, namely that no driver had won the DAYTONA 500 from the pole since Dale Jarrett in 2000.“There is no favorite in this race.” — Denny Hamlin, on being asked to handicap the DAYTONA 500.“I guess finishing second. Not a great memory, but to be part of the closest finish in history here is cool. Just wish we were on the other side of it.” — Asked to name his best DAYTONA 500 memory, Martin Truex Jr. cited the 2016 race, when he finished second to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin by 0.010 seconds.“I think my name is on the bottom right. It says ‘Kurt.‘ It doesn‘t say ‘Kyle.‘… I‘ve got the Harley J. Earl at home. He does not.” — Kurt Busch on the friendly sibling rivalry with brother Kyle Busch, pointing to the large Harley J. Earl trophy during a press conference for Vet Tix, a charity Kurt supports.

— NASCAR Newswire —

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