Ryan Blaney takes last-lap duel, wins NASCAR Trucks at CTMP (VIDEO)

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A thrilling, last-lap battle between Ryan Blaney and German Quiroga in today’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park ended with Blaney taking the checkered flag by a mere .050 of a second.

Quiroga had stalked Blaney for the lead since the final restart with 8 laps to go, and on the last run around the 2.45-mile road course, Quiroga drafted Blaney down the back straightaway and went side-by-side with him into the right-hand Turn 8.

Going into the left-hand Turn 9, Quiroga then took the lead on the inside. But as they drove into the final right-hand Turn 10, Blaney crossed over to the inside of Quiroga and then beat him in a drag race to the finish line.

The dramatic conclusion evoked memories of Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon’s race for the win last year at CTMP. But while that ended with Elliott dumping Dillon at Turn 10 (and Max Papis getting slapped by another driver’s girlfriend), Blaney and Quiroga stayed clean all the way.

“I noticed since that last restart that he’d get huge tows down the back stretch and just get a huge draft,” Blaney told Fox Sports about racing Quiroga. “I had to protect as best I could. He was able to get to my left side, and I didn’t think he could stay out there. But I got really, really loose underneath him there in that corner. The old-school short track racing cross-over move, I guess, worked on him.

“…It’s nice to go out there and race clean with a guy, and put on a great finish for the fans.”

As for Quiroga, he narrowly missed out on his first Truck Series victory. He said that he had fun battling Blaney, but his disappointment over the final outcome was evident.

“They gave me a winning truck, and we came second,” Quiroga said. “It hurts. We’ve come so close, so many times. But we have to keep on trying.”

“The last pass, I really drove it hard in the brake zone and I tried to pass him without wrecking, that’s for sure. We came close. We can’t come any closer on a road course.”

Erik Jones finished third for Kyle Busch Motorsports, followed by Gray Gaulding in fourth and Canadian driver Andrew Ranger in fifth.

The first 45 laps in the 64-lap event ran without a yellow until John Hunter Nemechek slowed to a stop on track. An extended caution ensued, with the restart coming back out at Lap 52.

Blaney was able to hold the lead while behind him, polesitter Alex Tagliani charged from seventh to fifth and then fourth after spinning out Cole Custer at Turn 5.

But one lap later, Tagliani himself lost control by himself in that same Turn 5-6 “Moss Corner” complex. The drivers behind him scattered, and when he was unable to re-fire the No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford, the caution came out again.

Tagliani wound up finishing 16th.

“We had a stuck throttle all day, and fortunately, the guys put a little bar for the return throttle and I was able to manage and lift it on my own,” he said. “But when you’re driving, it’s one thing. And when you race other people – I got caught going into Turn 5A and the throttle got hanging. I got in at like, 4000 rpm, and by the time I realized to pull it myself, I touched [Custer] and I’m sorry about that.

“Then [one lap later], I got it to first gear and the engine was revving too high, and I just lost the rear [end].”

Johnny Sauter finished eighth and leaves Canada with his Truck Series points lead intact. He holds a seven-point edge over teammate and defending series champion Matt Crafton, who finished sixth in today’s race.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at CTMP – Final Results

Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato welcomes ‘Baby Borg’ to the family

Photos: Michael L. Leavitt
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Takuma Sato cast a big shadow on the world of IndyCar racing last May when he became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500.

But there was another shadow of sorts cast along with Sato’s Indy 500 win: he and the prestigious Borg-Warner Trophy, given to each year’s winner of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, are virtually identical in size.

The Trophy is the same height as Sato, 5 feet, 5 ¾ inches tall. And the respective weight of both the Trophy and Sato are the same: approximately 113 pounds.

Try putting that on a mantle in your house.

2018 BorgWarner Baby Borg Presentation to 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato and team owner Michael Andretti. 17 January, 2018, Detroit, Michigan, USA.
©2018, Michael L. Levitt

That’s why Sato was so happy to receive the Baby Borg Trophy — a miniature version of the Borg-Warner Trophy — Wednesday night in Detroit. It’s much more manageable for the mantle in his house: 18 inches tall and five pounds.

“It’s such an honor to win the Baby Borg finally, eight months after the race, it’s been an unbelievable journey,” Sato told NBC Sports. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to win the 500 and it has just gone on and on. It’s just a significant moment in my life. It’s been fantastic.

“Right now, I haven’t really decided yet (where he’ll put the coveted Baby Borg). It’s going to my home in Indiana right now. But of course, everybody wants to see it. After that, I haven’t decided, but I’m sure it’ll get a special place.”

Even though the Baby Borg is a pint-sized version of the real trophy that was presented to Sato in victory lane in Indianapolis last May, it also has the same meaning as the big trophy and served to get Sato’s excitement pumping to where he’s already counting down the days to the 2018 Indy 500.

And even more important, it will be the first time he returns to Indianapolis as the defending champion.

“(Winning the 500) has changed my life,” Sato told NBC Sports. “But what I do is exactly the same, to try and be as fast as possible when racing.

“But all the environment, the people, all the cheering and being called an Indy 500 champion, I never imagined how deep and how far it goes, just the power and energy that the Indy 500 had.

“I just never realized how much the tradition and the prestigiousness of it. It’s been fantastic and I’m sure when I go back there to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in four months as the defending champion, it’ll be a whole other dimension. I’m sure it’s going to be a whole lot of pressure, but I’m sure to enjoy the moment.”

Sato, who turns 41 on January 28, will return to the 500 this year, but with a new team. He left Andretti Autosport after last season and returned to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, for whom he previously raced for in 2012.

Now that he’s won one Indy 500, Sato wants to make it two in a row.

“It’s a huge, another task and a new dream,” he said. “I’m excited for the new season and to go for another 500 (win), it’s another completely new dimension. Like Michael (Andretti, who he drove for last season) said, obviously, we’ll be competing against each other in the new season, but tonight we celebrated together. I think it’s going to be a real good season for me. I’d love to get another win there, of course.”

2018 BorgWarner Baby Borg Presentation to 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato and team owner Michael Andretti. 17 January, 2018, Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Michael Andretti celebrates his 5 Indy 500 wins as a team owner, and Takuma Sato celebrates his first Indy 500 win
©2018, Michael L. Levitt

But not if Andretti has anything to say about it.

“He’s not allowed to win again,” Andretti laughed while also speaking to NBC Sports.

Sato enjoyed a victory lap of another sort last month when he accompanied the Borg-Warner Trophy to his native Japan for a two-plus week tour of the nation.

It marked the first time in the Trophy’s 82-year existence that it has ever been outside the U.S.

Everywhere Sato and the Trophy went drew large crowds, from Honda Racing “Thanks Day” at the Twin Rings track at Motegi to a visit to Mount Fuji, a meeting with 850 members of Sato’s fan club, and also included a two-day run in the atrium of Honda’s World Headquarters in Tokyo that had fans lined up for hours to see the Trophy and take photos of it and Sato.

“The reaction was just massive,” Sato said. “For myself, it was a dream come true, but at the same time, for a country with that history, it was an unbelievable moment, particularly the first time when Hiro Matsushita did it (drove in the Indy 500 in the 1990s) so many years ago.

“So many Japanese drivers have tried to win such a historic race, I was just so proud to be part of it. The people were really excited. The passion, I’m really particularly happy to bring it to Japan.

“To go to Japan was a massive commitment by from Borg Warner and Honda. So many Japanese fans were able to see it physically and now they’re really looking forward to this year’s Indy 500 again. It was a great moment to us.”