Mutual respect for Quiroga, Blaney after close finish
August 31, 2014, Kristen Boghosian, NASCAR.com
BOWMANVILLE, ONTARIO -- If there was bad blood between German Quiroga and Ryan Blaney coming out of Bristol, the Chevrolet Silverado 250 would have seen a similar finish to last year's inaugural event, when Chase Elliott nudged leader Ty Dillon out of the way and into the wall in a finish that directed a lot of unkind words to the race winner. This year, fans saw one of the most exciting displays of clean racing the sport can offer.
On the final lap at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, a 10-turn road course just outside of Toronto, Blaney was looking for his first win of the season. Quiroga, still chasing his first win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, was just behind, leading eight laps himself and staying bumper-to-bumper with the No. 29.
"Blaney was in front of us and I tried really hard to pass him; I tried to make him do a mistake, and he didn't, I tried to pass him in several corners, clean, and just couldn't," Quiroga lamented after the race.
Yet in the final lap, as they traded the lead in the race's waning turns, Quiroga or Blaney could have cemented a trip to Victory Lane by sending the other off the track. The checkered flag flew, however, with Blaney barely holding onto the lead, and both trucks remained on track and intact.
"We had a problem last week at Bristol, and fate would have us racing each other for the win this weekend," Blaney said. "That's awesome right there, that's the way racing needs to be and it was so fun racing with him and battling it out with him."
After the white flag fell, Blaney, who led a race-high 34 laps, looked in prime position to take the checkered. But a few missed turns allowed Quiroga to get into position going into Turn 9, and it looked like Quiroga would be the one with the win.
"I drove it as deep as I could -- I actually passed him in Turn 8 -- and in Turn 9 he got a really good drive off the corner and just beat us by half a truck length."
Quiroga's disappointment at another near-win was evident, as the driver didn't even fake a smile post-race.
"We tried hard. We came close again. We came in second," he said of his finish. "It's so bad for me not to be able to win yet in the series. I've been trying for a year and a half now, and the win doesn't come."
When asked why he didn't send Blaney spinning, Quiroga had a semi-serious response.
"A call from NASCAR," he said, laughing. Coming out of Bristol, where Blaney and Quiroga finished 13th and 14th, respectively, both drivers had to speak with NASCAR to ensure that the problems between the two wouldn't continue.
The last, and according to Blaney only other time they had problems at the track occurred in the 2013 season.
Last July at Iowa Speedway, Quiroga's No. 77 got into the back of the Blaney's No. 29 truck while racing in the top 10. Blaney ended up taking a hard hit into the wall, finishing the race in 26th, five laps off the lead pace. That wreck didn't leave a lasting impression, nor did the problems between the two last week.
"I was over it after Bristol," Blaney said. "I wasn't going to come here with the top priority to mess the 77 up; I race everybody the same. I wasn't going to spin him out for the win. I don't wreck people for wins."
In last year's event, Ty Dillon was leading into the final corner of the race when Chase Elliott got into him and sent the No. 3 spinning into the outside barrier. Dillon finished 17th as the rest of the field passed by.
"He just doesn't have any respect," Dillon said after the race. "It was going to be an awesome points day for us, and I was racing hard, but man, you don't just go through the grass and wreck somebody. Killed our truck. Killed our day. It's just, here's the point: You gotta be smarter than that when you run these races. You gotta earn respect. Next time, I hope he runs Iowa, 'cause he won’t finish the race."
This year's race highlighted the exact sort of respect that Dillon was looking in the inaugural event at the Ontario road course. Neither Blaney nor Quiroga had bad things to say about the other coming out of it, just praise for a finish that was as exciting as it was clean.
"We raced really, really hard and really clean, and that's how racing should be," Blaney said.
"We talked before the race, and I think that's how we want to race," Quiroga recalled. "I told him, 'I wish one day we can just battle for the win,' and it was today. Unfortunately for me, we came in second."