Starting in 30th place, Blaney quickly moved up to 25th in time for the lap-25 competition caution when crew chief Jeremy Bullins gambled by taking two tires instead of four.
“We had two tires and no track position and that’s a bad combination,” Bullins said following the race. “We struggled through that run. We needed clean air to make two tires work and we didn’t get it.”
“At the end of the first run we were okay,” Blaney said. “Then we came in and put two (tires) on and it really upset the race car and made it do a bunch of different things. At least we learned that early, not to do two and that’s when we fell back and lost a lap.
“Unfortunately it was a long green run when we had two tires on, we got lapped and could never get it back,” Blaney continued. “At least we tried it early enough in the race where we could recover from it.”
The Wood Brothers Racing entry held serve for the middle 200 miles of the race, maintaining 29th position, one lap down with a car that was having trouble in the turns.
“In the middle of the race we tightened up,” Blaney said. “We couldn’t get in the corner and that was a big hurt for us.”
With 100 miles to go, Blaney had maneuvered the famous No. 21 to 20th place, and with 40 laps remaining, he gained a spot to move into 19th where he finished a lap down.
“Finally, during that second-last run I thought we were really, really good and we just didn’t get a caution when we were in the lucky dog spot,” the 21-year-old rookie driver said after climbing out of his car. “We learned a lot today as far as me driving and Jeremy and everyone on the box. We’ve come a long way from where we practiced. I thought the race car was pretty good toward the end.”
Ford Performance PR