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

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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