Great race, eh? Blaney nips Quiroga to win trucks in Canada
The Canadian fans certainly got their money’s worth Saturday afternoon at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, as Ryan Blaney and German Quiroga battled side-by-side coming to the checkered flag in one of the most dramatic finishes of the year in the Camping World Truck Series.
The battle had been going hard as soon as the race restarted with just eight laps to go, when Blaney got a great jump on the field as he held on to the lead over Quiroga.
Over the next eight laps, Quiroga went to work on the back bumper of Blaney’s No. 19 Ford, planning his move for the lead. That move came on the white flag lap, as Quiroga was able to get by for the top spot through the final corners.
Remaining calm, Blaney allowed Quiroga’s truck to go by in the Esses, but then made the crossover move to the inside coming out of the final turn to pull side-by-side as they came to the checkered flag.
Getting the advantage as they came to the line, Blaney scored the victory by 0.05 seconds over Quiroga.
"I noticed since that last restart he’d get huge tows down the backstretch," Blaney said of Quiroga. "I was protecting the best I could. He was able to get to my left side. I didn’t think he could stay out there, but I got really, really loose underneath him there in the corner. Old school, short-track racing crossover move I guess worked on him. That was really cool. That was awesome racing German. We’ve had our problems, but it was nice to go out there and race clean with the guy and put on a great finish for the fans. … If that’s not good racing, I don’t know what it, because it was a blast inside the car."
Finishing second, Quiroga scored his second runner-up finish of the year.
"I hope it was fun for everybody watching on TV," said Quiroga. "I don’t think (it was fun) for my team and for me, we were just trying to win this race. Everybody at the shop did a fantastic job. Everybody at Red Horse (Racing), the built me a winning truck and we just came home second. It hurts, you know. We’ve come close so many times. I just can’t believe it. We just have to keep on trying.
"Hopefully we can get a win soon. I really want it. I’m really trying hard."
As Quiroga fought to chase down Blaney for the lead, Erik Jones and Gray Gaulding fought side-by-side for the third spot.
When the checkered flag fell, Jones was third, followed by Gaulding, Andrew Ranger, Matt Crafton, Brennan Newberry, Johnny Sauter, Cole Custer and Timothy Peters.
Using a different strategy than most of the field, Blaney stayed on track as he attempted to run a one-stop race. As the rest of the field hit pit road under green, Blaney paced the field until he stopped for the first time on Lap 30.
Quiroga took fuel only on his first stop of the day, which allowed his No. 77 Toyota to take the top spot when Blaney hit pit road.
Rookie Cole Custer was able to catch Quiroga and make the pass for the lead on Lap 33 before hitting pit road on Lap 35. On that stop, Custer stalled the car as he left pit road and the team had a tire roll away, resulting in a pass-through penalty under green the following lap.
Also on a different pit sequence, Johnny Sauter hit pit road from the lead with 20 laps to go, giving the lead back to Blaney, who needed cautions to stretch his fuel to the end.
That break came on Lap 46 when John Hunter Nemechek stalled on the track to bring out the caution with 18 laps to go.
While the caution gave Blaney the insurance he needed to make it to the end of the race, it also brought the field to his back bumper for a late-race restart.
Restarting the race with 13 laps to go, Blaney was able to hold on to the top spot as a hard-charging Quiroga put the pressure on from behind.
Two of the strongest trucks of the day had trouble on the restart when Alex Tagliani got into the back bumper of Cole Custer in Turn 5. The following lap, it was Tagliani that went for a spin and stalled on the track to bring out the second caution of the day with just 12 laps to go.
As Tagliani spun, he was nearly struck by the two championship contenders Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter, who had to take evasive action to miss the No. 19 Ford.
Despite falling to eighth in the closing laps, Sauter was able to maintain his lead in the series standings by eight points over Crafton, while Blaney is now 13 points behind Sauter.
VIDEO: German Quiroga talks before Sunday’s race about his desire to earn his first career Camping World Truck Series win