Driver Ryan Blaney’s first Daytona 500 came to an end when the motor of his No. 21 Ford Fusion let go suddenly late in the race.
This occurred after battling his way back to 13th place after early-race contact with the Daytona International Speedway wall moved him to mid-pack. This week, Blaney and his team want to run up front and finish the race, more like when he finished fourth at Talladega.
“We had a fast car in the 500,” Blaney said. “It didn't end the way we wanted, but the good thing is Ford Performance and the Wood Brothers always bring fast cars to speedways.
“With this being a night race, the speeds are going to be much faster and cars are going to handle better,” he continued. “Which means that the aggressive drivers will be able to make more moves.
“I believe we will have a good enough car to run up front and have a chance to contend for the win,” Blaney said. “Everything just has to fall our way.”
Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins added, “The reality is we had a good day going in February before something out of our control took place. We will give the same effort to control what we can and hopefully be in a good position at the end.”
As has been the case throughout the up-and-down first part of the 2015 NASCAR season for Blaney and Bullins, they are focusing on the positives rather than the negatives.
“We have made huge progress as a team, not only me with driving but Jeremy with being able to work on the car more often,” Blaney said.
“Ryan has always run well at restrictor-plate races whether it be in a truck, in XFINITY or in Cup.” Bullins said. “He’s always shown the ability to be competitive and a good understanding of the draft.”
Considering the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion was so strong at Daytona in February, will the set up be the same for the Fourth of July weekend?”
“It’ll be similar, but not exactly the same,” Bullins explained. “It should be a little warmer, and it will be a night race versus afternoon, so that plays into it as well. Plus, I think we learned things in February that we can improve on for July, so it won’t be exactly the same for that reason alone.”
Wood Brothers Racing is the winningest team in Coke Zero 400 history with eight victories in the race that started life as the Firecracker 400. Cale Yarborough (twice), David Pearson (four times), Neil Bonnett and Buddy Baker all have helped the Woods celebrate Independence Day in victory circle at Daytona.
“Any win is cool and Daytona is certainly a special place to go to victory lane,” Bullins said. “If we as a group can add to the Wood Brothers’ legacy by getting a win, it wouldn’t get much more rewarding than that. I think we’ve shown we’re capable of running up front, so it’s up to us to try to get the job done.”
Practice sessions for Coke Zero 400 qualifying begin at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 3 and can be seen live on NBCSN. Qualifying will take place at 4:35 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 4 and will be broadcast live on NBCSN. The Coke Zero 400 coverage begins at 7:45 p.m. EDT on July 5 on NBC.
Ford Performance PR