What started out to be a promising run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway didn’t turn out as expected for Ryan Blaney and his No. 21 SKF Ford Fusion team.
After a strong performance in qualifying on Friday and posting the third-best time in final practice on Saturday, Blaney was poised for a run to the front in Sunday’s New Hampshire 301.
Starting 16th, he ran around the top 15 for the first third of the race, and then began to march forward. He moved into the top-10 and as high as sixth, but a loose wheel sent him to pit road for an unscheduled stop under the green flag at Lap 130 of 301.
Blaney was penalized for speeding on pit road during that stop, so by the time he served his pit road pass-thru penalty, he was two laps behind the leaders.
He made up the first lap, then the SKF team took the wave-around to rejoin the lead lap, but without the benefit of a caution flag flying in a timely manner, Blaney had to make a late stop for fuel and tires and wound up 23rd at the finish.
“We had a tough day,” Blaney said, shouldering more than his share of responsibility for the setbacks of the afternoon. “It was just kind of a series of events that escalated and got us worse and worse throughout the day. It was just unfortunate.”
Team co-owner Len Wood said he saw lots of positives from Blaney and the SKF team.
“We had a fast car,” he said. “We had a loose right-rear wheel, and Ryan correctly recognized it. He was speeding on pit road, but by less than a half a mile an hour.”
On the track, Wood said, Blaney turned in a commendable performance, especially for a rookie driver.
“He was really good on restarts, and he passed a lot of cars,” Wood said. “I wish the finish could have been a little better, especially for SKF. We were really pleased to have them with us this weekend, and hopefully we will have a better result for them on their next race with us, at Bristol Motor Speedway next month.”
Blaney and the Wood Brothers return to the Sprint Cup Series next weekend for the Crown Royal 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Wood Brothers Racing PR