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Driver finishes 21 points shy of Matt Crafton in 2014 standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Midway through the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finale, a wrench was thrown into Ryan Blaney 's plans for a long-shot title bid. So his team reacted by throwing a wrench into his truck. Blaney responded with a near-seamless charge back to the front in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , rallying from a broken shifter for his 12th top-five finish of the year. His fifth-place effort wasn't quite enough to overcome Matt Crafton 's ninth-place run on the way to his second consecutive championship; Blaney wound up 21 points off the top in the final standings. "We didn't finish the year like we wanted to, but we've got to look at the positive side," the 20-year-old Blaney said. "We had a good year and we were in the hunt, and that's all we can look at." The roundabout way to fifth place wasn't without its adventures. When Blaney tried to leave his pit stall during the fourth of seven caution periods shortly after the race's midpoint, the shifter level snapped off, forcing his No. 29 Ford to stall. Once the word spread about the parts failure, his in-truck camera focused in as Blaney held up the broken lever. His Brad Keselowski Racing crew was able to inspect the damage on the SprintVision big screen behind their pit stall. "Luckily, I guess the camera paid off because we had him hold up the piece so we could tell where it broke, how far," said Chad Kendrick, Blaney's crew chief. "We know what it looks like, and we knew depending on where it broke what we needed to do to try to help him out. So we knew how much nub was left and what the size was, so our plan was to try to change it, but we knew we'd lose a ton of track position -- maybe even a lap -- doing it. Then he said he would deal with it, and he did a great job dealing with it, but I don't know how he did that." During the next caution period, they handed Blaney vise-grips, which he fiddled with for almost a full lap under yellow to rig a makeshift lever. Satisfied with his repair, Blaney methodically marched back into contention for the lead, eventually going three-wide up front with Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch and race winner Darrell Wallace Jr . with 15 laps remaining. But Blaney's truck was better suited to longer green-flag runs, and he wound up shuffled back to the bottom of the top five amidst the hard-nosed racing. "It took off a lot better than I thought it was going to at the end for about five or six laps, and then it fell off the way it did," Blaney said. "Took off good, showed some promise, and shame it wasn't a five-lap shootout deal at the end. Just couldn't get it." Blaney and Kendrick debriefed on pit road afterward, eventually joined by their team owner. Keselowski peered into the cockpit to inspect the make-do shifter before congratulating both driver and crew chief on a solid campaign. Kendrick shrugged at the final standings while the fireworks went off in Victory Lane, but he expressed optimism about BKR's outlook while acknowledging Crafton's historic achievement. "You know, a top-five, I can't hold my head down too low," Kendrick said. "We wanted to win the championship. The first thing we had to do was outrun the 88 (Crafton) and we did that all night, but we needed him to have bad luck and it didn't happen. Hats off to those guys -- they ran good all year. We'll come back next year and the team will look a little different, but we'll be back here and try to get Ford some more victories." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Ryan Blaney works through shifter problems in the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Ryan Blaney talks about the shifter issues he experienced during the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and reflects on his year in the Camping World Truck Series.
Truck Series driver has no problem switching seats Ryan Blaney has made a habit of deftly bouncing from ride to ride in all three NASCAR national series this season. The cross-training has not only given the 20-year-old plenty of time behind the wheel, it's made him a more versatile driver as he takes the next step in his racing career. Blaney , fresh from a third-place finish last weekend in the NASCAR Nationwide Series behind Sprint Cup regulars Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick at Kansas Speedway , has much more criss-crossing on tap for the closing stages of 2014. He'll return to his full-time gig driving in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Oct. 18 at Talladega Superspeedway , where he'll also attempt to make his second career Sprint Cup start the following day. But first things first: Blaney has another start scheduled on the Nationwide side for Team Penske at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. "I'm really excited for Charlotte," Blaney said last weekend in Kansas. "I've got Greg Erwin crew-chiefing me, and I think we're pretty close to how we were at Kentucky, and we had a pretty good run there with Greg. I really like Charlotte and it's always been a fun race track for me. Looking forward to running three out of the last four Nationwide events." Blaney has two Nationwide races remaining (Charlotte, Texas) in the Erwin-led No. 12 Penske Ford and one left (Phoenix) with Jeremy Bullins atop the pit box for the No. 22 Mustang. Bullins, who oversaw Blaney's Sprint Cup debut in May at Kansas, will again be calling the shots for the youngster's return at Talladega. While Blaney's Nationwide car number will vary the next three weeks, the team's preparation won't change. "The races this year that we've run the 12 (Nationwide) program, we're trying to mirror what we're doing with the 22, so we'll be in constant contact with them and make sure that's as good an effort as it can be," Bullins said. "Then we're all excited to go with him to Talladega here in a couple weeks; that's going to be a lot of fun." Blaney will embark on heavier Sprint Cup duty next season running a part-time schedule in the Wood Brothers' famed No. 21 Ford team, which will share a technical alliance with Team Penske beginning in 2015. He plans to continue driving duties for Penske in Nationwide competition, where he's recorded top-10 finishes in all but one of his 11 starts this season. While Blaney has one victory in each the Nationwide and Truck series this year, he's been on the cusp of several more. In trucks, he also possesses two runner-up finishes and ranks third in standings this season, and has been no worse than fourth his last four times out in the Nationwide tour. "We've been close," Blaney said. "We just haven't been able to quite get to Victory Lane these last handful of races." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Ryan Blaney , Matt Crafton, Tyler Reddick, and Tayler Malsam talk about their finish at Talladega Superspeedway.
Technical alliance formed with Team Penske RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Ryan Blaney will fill in for Trevor Bayne in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford Friday and Saturday at Michigan International Speedway as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams begin preparations for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400. Next season, Blaney will replace Bayne on a more permanent basis. Blaney , 20, has been named driver for the legendary team beginning in 2015, and will compete in at least 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events. Bayne will move into a full-time role in Sprint Cup with Roush Fenway Racing next season. This weekend, he will be at Mid-Ohio to compete in the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200, creating the opening for Blaney to practice and qualify the Sprint Cup car for the Wood Brothers. The opportunity to drive the familiar red and white No. 21 Ford, which has carried some of the sport's most legendary figures to victory lane is "unbelievable," Blaney said. "It's really a dream come true so I couldn't be happier. "I'm ready to finish out this 2014 season very strong, try to go after this Truck championship and I'm really excited and looking forward to '15. I think it'll be a great year for us." Blaney currently competes in the Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing. He is the series' points leader after 11 of this season's 22 events with a series' best seven top-five finishes. He has two career wins. Eddie Wood said the search for Bayne's replacement began as soon as Bayne announced his plans to move up to Cup full-time with RFR. "Of course, that left us without a driver," Wood said. "As the summer went on the name that kept popping up was Ryan Blaney and it just kept coming up over and over and over again, so we went in that direction and fortunately we put that deal together. "We've had Trevor for the last four years and had that one great big win at Daytona (in 2011). That was almost a life-changing event for us as well as Trevor. I hope that we can repeat some of that success with Ryan . "He's the next big deal, I think, and we're real excited to have him. We've got a lot of pictures on our wall up in Virginia in the museum and we'd sure love to put him up there as a winner." Wood said for now the team's limited schedule likely would remain unchanged for next season, with the team competing in at least 12 Sprint Cup events. Motorcraft/Quick Lane will return as primary sponsor for 2015. Additional funding could mean an expanded schedule. "We're always chasing other dollars to run more races and we're certainly going to be in a position to do that," Wood said. In addition to the driver move, officials also announced the formation of a technical alliance with Team Penske , which fields Ford teams in the Sprint Cup Series for drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano . Since 2012, Blaney has made several starts for Team Penske in the Nationwide Series , and made his Sprint Cup debut earlier this year with the organization, finishing 27th at Kansas. He is scheduled to make one more Sprint Cup start with the team this year, at Talladega. The alliance "is something that's foreign to us to be honest," said Team Penske president Tim Cindric, "because it's not something we've done in the past. "We've been approached in different ways and … some of that has to do with how well you run and how well you don't run. When you're running up front, everybody wants to work with you and when you're not, then you don't get as many calls. But our answer has usually been the same. Our answer has usually been, ‘We've got enough to focus on at our place.'" Working closely with the Wood Brothers made sense "for many reasons," he said. "We're certainly focused on not only ensuring that Ryan has the tools to be successful and continues his career, but ensuring that the Wood Brothers have everything that we have." In addition to his Sprint Cup duties, Blaney will likely continue to share seat time in the No. 22 Ford fielded by Team Penske in the Nationwide Series next season. "I'd like to do as much racing as possible next year and that stuff will come later on down the road," Blaney said. "We're just excited to announce the stuff today. … I'd like to race as much as possible but we're focused on finishing out this year strong and I'm really excited about the Wood Brothers deal next year and I'm sure we'll figure all that stuff out later." Wood Brothers Racing is one of the longest tenured groups competing in NASCAR's premier series. Founded by Glen Wood when NASCAR was just beginning to take root in the early 1950s, the team has won 98 races and has always been affiliated with Ford Motor Company. Glen and younger brother Leonard Wood, who served as crew chief, are members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Glen's children, Eddie, Len and Kim, run the organization today. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Darrell Wallace Jr videobombs Ryan Blaney giving an interview during a rain delay of the NCWTS qualifying session at Chicagoland Speedway.