Two-time Talladega champ Blaney knows luck plays its part in winning at the speedway

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Mark Edwards, The Anniston Star, Ala.
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Apr. 22—Ryan Blaney has won two Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway, but he also finished 43rd once.

He has fourth-place and ninth-place finishes to his credit, but after his most recent victory, he was 25th and couldn't finish the race after getting caught up in a wreck.

It's been a bit hit-and-miss for Blaney in his 13 Cup races at Talladega. Even with victories in the fall 2019 and the summer 2020 races, his average finish is 18.1. Three times, wrecks beat up his car so bad he couldn't finish the race.

So even though he's fifth in Cup points this season and clearly one of the favorites when Talladega Superspeedway hosts the GEICO 500 on Sunday, there are no guarantees where he might land.

That's just 'Dega for you.

"You could have all the races in the world there, and you just never know when it's not your day," Blaney said recently by telephone.

He's had relatively good luck at the other superspeedway track on the Cup circuit in Daytona. In 12 starts there, he has finished second twice, sixth once and seventh once.

He's also finished 39th, 40th, 31st, 36th and 30th in the most recent race in February.

"I enjoy the speedway races, whether it's Talladega or Daytona," he said. "I enjoy them just because it's a different kind of racing than any other place. You've got to go with a different mindset of how you're going to approach it."

Part of that mindset is the resignation that something bad could happen through no fault of your own.

"Those races are so up in the air as far as you and your team 100 percent don't control your own fate sometimes," he said. "Other people can control your own fate and destiny. You go in knowing what could happen, but you go in the mindset of every other race, as far as, 'We can win this race.' And, we've done it before, but you never know what's going to happen at those things."

When discussing the factors that allowed him to win twice at Talladega, he listed three factors:

—Really fast cars

—Good spotter-driver communication

—A little bit of luck

"You've got to stay out of the big ones, obviously," he said. "I've been involved in the big ones that you didn't have anything to do with. You're just kind of sandwiched on in there.

"Otherwise, we've been able to survive to the end and been in a spot to win the race. I think all those things go into it, but it helps to have a good car and a good spotter-driver combo. Those kinds of things you can control, but the other things you can't.

"We've been fortunate to be on the good end of it a couple of times."

Senior Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.