Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team will have to wait until Thursday’s Budweiser Duel to secure a starting spot in the 57th annual Daytona 500. Their best chance to get in the Daytona 500 on speed was cut short by a crash involving Reed Sorenson, Clint Bowyer and others during Sunday’s pole-qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway.
Blaney, attempting to qualify for the Great American Race for the first time ever, was working with his Team Penske drafting partners Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano in the opening session and was poised to post a lap fast enough to assure a starting spot in the 500. But the Sorenson-Bowyer crash brought out the caution flag before the trio of Ford Fusions could complete a third lap at speed, one that surely would have resulted in a faster lap than the previous one in which Blaney was clocked at 199.084 miles per hour.
Drivers in the second group of the opening round were able to make their “money” runs without incident, and that dropped Blaney from 5th fastest after his group ran, to 17th at the end of the opening session.
In the second round, Blaney posted a best speed of 193.282 mph, 20th fastest overall. Two drivers failed post-qualifying inspection that were in front of him in qualifying. As a result, he will start 9th in the second of two 150-mile Duels on Thursday night.
“We didn’t get a great run there in the last session,” Blaney said. “We didn’t time it right. It is just one of those deals. We have the Duel on Thursday and hopefully we will have a good run there and be able to make the race that way.”
“I think our car has good speed, it is just a matter of getting runs now. Qualifying is hard to do and guys lay back and some guys don’t. It is hard to time it right, and we just missed it a little bit in that [second] session. We are looking forward to the Duels though.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team worked with Team Penske on a qualifying plan in which the three drivers would draft together, and it was a good one.
“We had a plan, we stuck to it, but it just didn’t work out,” Wood said, adding that despite the missed opportunity to lock in a starting spot during Sunday’s qualifying session he’s as optimistic as one can be headed into Thursday’s qualifying races in which the fastest 15 drivers in each race will earn starting spots for the Daytona 500. Wood is well aware that any time drivers are racing at restrictor-plate tracks like Daytona or Talladega Superspeedway, a multi-car crash can instantly wipe out the best-laid plans and best-prepared cars.
“So many things can happen and will happen,” he said. “I feel really good about how our car will race. I have a lot of confidence in the preparation of our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion by Jeremy Bullins and the people on our team and by the people at Team Penske that have worked with so well with us.”
Thursday’s Budweiser Duel qualifying races are set to get the green flag just after 7 p.m. Eastern Time with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.
Wood Brothers Racing PR