“Even though it took a bold pit call to get to 12th (at Indy with the larger spoiler and wickerbill), the car was passing people during most stints,” Bullins said. “We definitely had good speed in the car. It was definitely difficult to pass at times, so it did take some strategy to get to where we wound up, but we still had a fast car.”
Blaney added, “I feel like the team has good momentum from Indy. Going back to Michigan where we had a good run in June is a plus as well.”
“I feel like Michigan will be a much different race than Indy,” Bullins said. “I think the Indy race wasn’t a lot different than prior races, and I think this aero package stands to change the racing more at MIS than it did at Indy.
“Indy has always been a one-groove race track where momentum was required to begin and complete a pass,” Bullins explained. “Michigan has the potential to offer up another lane or two depending on how the track rubbers in, giving the option to move around some, but not a lot. It’s still tough to pass, but slightly easier than Indy.”
Blaney said, “Michigan is one of the fastest tracks we race. It’s very smooth and makes the drivers be very aware of things at all times because everything happens so fast. With this new aero package, it's going to be a lot different.”
The Wood Brothers’ famous No. 21 will be wearing its familiar Motorcraft/Quick Lane livery after three appearances in alternate paint schemes. It also will feature a special decal honoring the life of former Wood Brothers driver Buddy Baker who passed away Monday from lung cancer. Baker piloted the No. 21 in 1983 and 1984, finding victory lane at the ’83 Firecracker 400 in Daytona.
Back in red and white, the team will be looking to improve on its rain-hampered 24th-place finish at MIS in June. Blaney did, however, have a strong qualifying effort at the first Michigan race with laps of 199.534 mph, 200.714 mph and 201.056 mph to qualify fifth.
Considering the change of aero package from the June Michigan race to this one, how much of what was learned earlier in the season is useful now?
“Some of what you learned from a tire standpoint stays the same, as the tire is the same compound,” Bullins said. “The aero changes will certainly influence other areas of the setup.”
In the meantime, the crew chief expects his rookie driver to continue improving from race to race.
“I think he’s done a phenomenal job to this point, and I think experience is the best teacher,” Bullins said. “We progress each week and you’ve seen that in every area of what goes on throughout a weekend. As we start to put that together and execute over the entire weekend the results will do nothing but get better.”
The practice session for Pure Michigan 400 qualifying begins on Friday Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. EDT and can be seen live on NBCSN. Qualifying also will be broadcast Friday on NBCSN at 5 p.m. EDT. Practices on Saturday, Aug. 15, begin at 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. and can be seen live on NBCSN. The Pure Michigan 400 begins at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 16 on NBCSN.
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