“It’s the First Kiss” – Ryan Blaney Has a Rather Special Celebration With His Clock as He Clinches His Martinsville Dream

Published 10/30/2023, 4:17 PM EDT

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When Fred Lorenzen won a race at Martinsville in 1964, he was awarded the first grandfather clock of NASCAR history. Since then, the same unique trophy has been handed to every driver who conquers the short track. And, the latest to get it is Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney. Showcasing stupendous speed and skill throughout the 500 laps of Sunday’s Xfinity 500, the #12 driver managed to poke ahead of Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin for the win.

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Upon getting his hands on the clock, Blaney couldn’t quite control his excitement. Fully enjoying the moment that will lead him to his maiden championship 4 race, he kissed the clock with a tight hug.

Ryan Blaney accomplishes a long dream with his strong performance

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Talking to the press in the aftermath of his win, the driver said, “I grew up in High Point so not too far from here. Martinsville is closer to High Point than Charlotte. I’ve been wanting to win here for a long time. I’ve been super close for many years, and it’s awesome to close it out.”

His words reflect why he was so emotional about the clock and the win. The unique factor about the grandfather clock is that it chimes every 15 minutes in ode to a celebrated victory. One could possibly say that it holds the top spot in the list of NASCAR’s honored traditions. Along with presenting the clock to the man of the hour, the speedway also took it to social media to share the moment. Putting up an image of Blaney kissing the clock, representatives wrote, “It’s the first kiss”.

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Going into the gates of Virginia, Blaney was not the favorite for many. While many did expect him to go through the cutoff, a win wasn’t really in the book for him. Most favored was Denny Hamlin for victory lane, but the Penske driver turned up to be the unlikely dark horse. Battling his Joe Gibbs Racing nemesis for the top spot right from stage 1, he finally got the better of him in stage 2.

In the final stage, however, an unpredicted restart mixed the grid up and Blaney had to climb all the way back up again. With 23 laps remaining for the chequered flag, the #12 Ford Mustang passed the #10 car of then leader Aric Almirola, and took back its lead. There was no stopping the quick machine after that.

Watch Story: Ryan Blaney’s Triumph Amidst Hamlin’s Tactics

The significance of the Martinsville grandfather clock that Ryan Blaney is so fond of

Richard “King” Petty, holds many distinctions in his career behind a race car. One of them is that he has the most Martinsville grandfather clocks in his trophy cabinet… or rather, trophy room. Joking about the 12 clocks that the track has given him, the speedway’s president Campbell says, “And it’s always been kind of a standing joke through all of the clocks he has in all the various rooms of his house, that it must be pretty noisy over there every 15 minutes.”

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9-time Martinsville winner and current vice-chairman of Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Gordon says about the clock, “It’s certainly the most unique trophy and it has so much meaning behind it because it’s a tough one to capture.”

The exact intention of the race track’s founder H. Clay Earles was to present the track winners with a memento that would get them to remember the moments of their glory. Six decades later, we see that it is a job well done. While accumulating such heavy, timeless artefacts at their houses could be an inconvenience, Gordon’s opinion is: “It’s a very good problem to have.”

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With his win in the latest edition of the Xfinity 500, Blaney will be taking home his first clock. Let’s hope that the driver will take home many more in the future and mark his name as one of Martinsville’s greatest. It is after all, his home track!

Read More: “Been Super Close for Many Years”- Ryan Blaney Gets Emotional As Championship Ticket Completes Unfulfilled Martinsville Dream

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Written by:

Gowtham Ramalingam

365Articles

One take at a time

Hello, there! Though my affinity for racing originally stemmed from the European circuits of Formula 1 as a teen, I unexpectedly found myself drawn to NASCAR's unparalleled excitement growing up. This sport took hold of me and never let go, leading me to a career as a NASCAR writer. Over the last few months, I’ve had the chance to share my insights and observations through a myriad of articles on EssentiallySports.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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