LONG POND, Pa. — Ryan Blaney held off Kevin Harvick down the stretch in a thrilling finish and got his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

The 23-year-old Blaney, a third generation driver, won for the first time in 68 career starts. He got there in the No. 21 Ford and without a working team radio.

Blaney drives for the Wood Brothers, one of the most storied teams in NASCAR. The Wood Brothers have won at least one race in each of the last six decades, but had no victories since Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in 2011.

The Wood Brothers won for the 99th time. Blaney is the 18th driver to win a Cup race with the Wood Brothers.

“It figures the one race we don’t have radio communication, we end up winning it,” Blaney said. “Maybe we should turn the radio off more often.”

Blaney is part of a bumper crop of blossoming young talent that his hit NASCAR over the last couple years. Two of those other drivers were in the top 10: rookie Erik Jones was third and Chase Elliott was eighth.

Darrell Wallace Jr. finished a lap down in 26th in the first start by a black driver in the Cup series since 2006. He felt ill after the race and needed to go to the medical center. Wallace said he was embarrassed, but fine.

“It was really cool, a really fun day,” he said.

Blaney was exhilarated following a frenetic final 10 laps. He passed a blocking Kyle Busch with about nine laps left, then held off a hard-charging Harvick to take the checkered flag.

“I just didn’t want to make a mistake,” Blaney said. “That would have been the worst thing we could do.”

He was nearly flawless over those final 10 laps.


Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson sat on the track to catch his breath following a fiery wreck late in the race. He said he was fine following the scary wreck that stopped the race for 23 minutes. Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet was in flames and the cockpit billowed with smoke after his car struck the wall. Johnson was running seventh when he appeared to have an issue with his brakes that shot the car up the track and into the wall.

“I can only speculate that I got the brakes too hot and when I went to the brakes, they just traveled straight to the floor,” Johnson said. “I didn’t even have a pedal to push on. At that point, I threw it in third gear and I was just trying to slow it down.”

Jamie McMurray appeared to get caught up in the aftermath of Johnson’s wreck, and his No. 1 Chevy also smacked the wall and burst into flames. McMurray, who also had brake issues, quickly climbed out of the car.

“I just started spinning and didn’t have any brakes,” he said. “It was really weird that we kind of both had the same thing happen at the same point on the racetrack, but fortunately, we are both OK.”


Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained winless this season when he was forced out of the race because of mechanical issues. Earnhardt, who swept the two Pocono races in 2015, said his No. 88 Chevrolet had shifting problems.

Earnhardt, who will retire at the end of the season, has finished 30th or worse six times this season.