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Srigley Stats: Ryan Blaney Continues Penske Progression with Dominant Iowa Victory

This week, #SrigleyStats touches on dominance for Ryan Blaney in Iowa, a fantastic start to 2024 for Chase Elliott, Sam Mayer's major turnaround, and Connor Zilisch: an up-and-coming superstar.


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Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney, and the entire three-car Penske brigade, haven’t had the start to the season they were hoping for – at least until recently, when the organization’s stat line has returned to its Penske-perfect form.

In two of the circuit’s last three rounds, Team Penske has been dominant; first at WWT Raceway with Ryan Blaney and Austin Cindric being the class of the field, and then again Sunday at Iowa Speedway, where Ryan Blaney set a blistering pace, leading 201 of 350 laps.

Throughout his NASCAR National Series career, only one previous time has Blaney led more laps in a single event: the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series event at… Iowa Speedway, where he led 252 of 260 laps en route to the victory.

With his victory in Sunday’s inaugural NASCAR Cup Series event at Iowa Speedway, Blaney has now won at the 0.875-mile short track in each of NASCAR’s National Series (Trucks in 2012, Xfinity in 2015, and Cup in 2024).

The 30-year-old racer becomes just the 10th competitor to accomplish this feat at any racetrack, joining: Kyle Busch (17 tracks), Kevin Harvick (7 tracks), Mark Martin (4 tracks), Bobby Labonte (Martinsville), Brad Keselowski (Bristol), Kasey Kahne (Charlotte), Chase Elliott (Charlotte), Carl Edwards (Bristol), and Christopher Bell (New Hampshire).

Sunday’s victory is also important in that it guarantees that Blaney will have a shot at defending his NASCAR Cup Series crown, joining Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric as being locked into the post-season after Cindric won at WWT Raceway.

In the last three races, Blaney has led 221 of 700 laps, the most of any driver in the NASCAR Cup Series during that stretch, with Team Penske leading an additional 70 circuits (53 from Cindric, 17 from Logano).

Should Blaney continue to fire on all cylinders and avoid simple miscues like the one that caused him to run out of fuel at WWT Raceway, then we could be looking at another eleventh-hour surge by the No. 12 to contend for the title.

Photo Credit: Danny Hansen, NKP for Ford Performance



We’re nearly at the halfway point of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series campaign and Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Hendrick Motorsports, has still yet to finish outside the top-20.

It’s a streak that – somehow – is still alive, with Elliott recording a worst finish of 19th at Phoenix Raceway in March. For the No. 9 team, the stat line this season so far includes a victory at Texas Motor Speedway, seven top-five finishes – including back-to-back at Sonoma and Iowa – and nine top-10s.

That streak of 17 consecutive top-20s to start the year is the longest since Jeff Burton replicated the same statistic while driving for Richard Childress Racing in 2008.

On top that that, Elliott has completed 99.9791% of all laps run this season (4,802 out of 4,803 laps) only dropping off the lead lap once this season at Bristol Motor Speedway, despite scoring an eighth-place finish.

The consistent top-20s have also allowed the sport’s Most Popular Driver to have an average finish of 9.1, which is nearly three positions better than any other full-timer in the field – his next closest competitor in average finish, William Byron, has a 12.5.

It’s that kind of consistency that has also allowed the Dawsonville, Georgia native to take over the regular-season points lead from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson, whose absence from the Coca-Cola 600 and poor finish at Iowa have destroyed the once sizeable lead over the pack.

If Elliott can keep this pace, and potentially collect a couple of victories along the way, there's no doubt that the driver of the No. 9 will be competing for another NASCAR Cup Series title in 2024.

Photo Credit: Chris Owens, HHP for Chevy Racing



For Sam Mayer, a victory in Saturday’s Hy-Vee PERKS 250 at Iowa Speedway was the culmination of an incredible rebound that has stretched through the second quarter of the Xfinity Series season.

Frankly, the season started off in a disgusting manner for the JR Motorsports driver, with four finishes of 30th or worse in the opening six rounds of the season – which caused him to drop as low as 24th in Xfinity Series driver point standings.

It took seven races (until Martinsville Speedway in April) for Mayer to score a finish better than ninth, earning a runner-up finish at the half-mile paperclip after nearly scoring the victory. Since then, it’s been a totally different season for the No. 1 team.

The next weekend, Mayer narrowly beat out Ryan Sieg to win at Texas Motor Speedway in a photo finish, locking himself into the post-season, despite being quite a few points below the cutline.

Over the last nine races (dating back to his first top-five of 2024 at Martinsville), Mayer has finished outside the top four only twice; once at Talladega, and the most recent time at Portland after making a small mistake running in third.

So, in the last two months, Mayer has transformed his season from scratching and clawing just to make the post-season to possibly being the championship favorite now in the Xfinity Series campaign.

The 20-year-old driver has scored six victories in the last 29 NASCAR Xfinity Series events, more than anybody else in that span, and at such a young age continues to make a lasting impression on the people watching from the NASCAR Cup Series garage.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner, Getty Images



At 17 years old, Connor Zilisch is already being touted as one of the best young drivers in motorsports, or a future NASCAR Cup Series champion, amongst several other compliments and high praises.

Despite the fact he can’t participate in events on ovals larger than 1.25 miles or compete in the top two divisions of NASCAR, the Trackhouse Racing development driver has shown a great deal of skill and versatility, running a schedule that includes Late Models, IMSA, ARCA, Trucks, and several other disciplines.

In his limited starts competing under the ARCA banner, Zilisch is already a three-time winner in the East Series, with victories at Dover and Iowa doubling as wins in the ARCA Menards Series (national division).

Combine that with a runner-up finish on debut last Summer at Watkins Glen International, and Zilisch has recorded either a first or second-place finish in his first three ARCA Menards Series (national) starts, placing him in rarified air.

It’s been nearly 15 years since any ARCA driver has managed to start their career with three top-two finishes, going all the way back to 2010 when Ty Dillon finished second in his debut, before winning his next two starts, driving for NASCAR Cup Series team Richard Childress Racing.

Granted, the world has already seen how talented the Mooresville, North Carolina native is, considering he won the pole for his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut event at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) and rebounded to a top-five after several issues forced him to drive through the pack.

Zilisch will put his talents on display even more later this season, with additional starts planned in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series later on in the season.

Photo Credit: Matthew Putney, ARCA Racing