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Like father, like son at Talladega -- but it’s Blaney, not Earnhardt

Ryan Blaney Dega1 2015 Getty

It was like father, like son in Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

But we’re not talking about the late Dale Earnhardt and his son, race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Rather, 21-year-old Ryan Blaney emulated what his father, Dave, did in his career.

Dave Blaney never earned a Sprint Cup win, but he did have four top-five finishes, including a pair of career-high third places at Talladega.

In just his sixth Sprint Cup start, Ryan Blaney recorded his best finish in NASCAR’s premier series with a fourth in his second start at Talladega (he was 22nd in last Octobers’s race).

The younger Blaney started third, and rallied to finish strong in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion.

“Not a bad day,” Blaney said. “After blowing up at Daytona and Texas, it’s nice to get a good finish.”

That’s an understatement. But the younger Blaney shouldn’t sell himself short: he drove like a pro, rather than a guy who was only in his third career restrictor-plate event.

“We had a fast car and a good starting spot,” Blaney said. “We went back a couple times and came back up through there. … It’s good to get a good finish with these guys, and we’re really excited to go to Charlotte (Coca-Cola 600 on May 24).”

Blaney might have had a shot at passing eventual third-place finisher Paul Menard and maybe even challenging race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and runner-up Jimmie Johnson.

But in one of the few mistakes he made, Blaney admitted he waited too long for Denny Hamlin (who finished ninth) to make a run at the leaders heading into the final lap.

“I was really more focused on Denny,” Blaney said. “I knew he was going to make a move eventually. I was just trying to see if he was laying back trying to get a run.

“I just didn’t know when that was going to happen. I figured it was going to be one or two (laps) to go. That’s all I was concerned about, trying to look in the mirror, make sure you didn’t get left out, which we did unfortunately.”

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