Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team are upbeat going into this weekend’s Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Despite brushing the wall early in the season-opening Daytona 500, driver and crew had the iconic Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford Fusion poised to contend for a Top 10 finish or better when the engine let go late in the race, leading to optimism about the future.
“I'm really excited about going to Vegas,” Blaney said. “Trying to gain momentum from Daytona will be really big for us in this race.”
Sprint Cup rookie Blaney has experience at LVMS, driving in the last two Camping World Truck Series races there. “I've been there a couple of times and I’m looking forward to my first Cup start and my first XFINITY Series start.”
In his previous visits to Las Vegas, Blaney started 15th and finished 20th in Brad Kezelowski’s No. 29 Ford F-Series in 2013 and started on the pole and finished 6th a year ago.
This weekend, Blaney will be driving both the Motorcaft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race and the No. 22 Penske Racing Mustang in Saturday’s XFINITY race.
“Being able to do double duty this weekend is really going to help me out with the racetrack,” Blaney said. “Anytime a driver can run double duty it helps. The driver gets more seat time and can compare both cars with positive or negative changes.
“Tracks change as rubber gets laid down on them throughout the weekend, so running the XFINITY race can help you for the Cup race by feeling what the track does as it changes,” he said.
Blaney and his crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, look forward to the challenge of attacking the 1.5-mile LVMS after the 2.5 miles of Daytona.
“To get on our first mile and a half of the year is going to be exciting,” Blaney said. “At Vegas we can adjust the car and it's a lot more technical than Daytona from a driver’s perspective.”
Bullins said, “At Daytona and Talladega we worry more about raw speed and less about handling, plus you’re in the draft all day. At the 1.5-mile tracks we focus more on handling and tire wear and other performance metrics to try to find our speed. We have a lot more tools to work with at the 1.5-mile tracks to find the handling we need.”
This weekend will be the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team’s first race with NASCAR’s new rules package. Any concerns from the pit box? “Not really,” Bullins said. “I think for us it’s just a matter of getting to a good race balance as quickly as we can and understanding the feel that Ryan needs with the new rules.”
Blaney concluded, “It's going to be a fun weekend for our Wood Brothers No. 21 team. We are really excited to get out on the racetrack and get going.”
Ford Performance PR