Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team will be looking to continue their string of strong performances this weekend in the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The Wood Brothers’ team comes to the historic Alabama track on the heels of a 12th-place finish in Charlotte and a seventh-place showing last weekend in Kansas.
At Talladega in May, Blaney had his best weekend of the season starting in third after two solid qualifying runs and was in that same spot running strong with two laps to go in the 188-lap race. When the cars behind Blaney decided to try to overtake him in the second-to-last lap, he slipped back a few places but recovered to claim fourth before he reached the checkered flag.
“Running well anywhere definitely gives you confidence when you go back to that track, whether it’s a superspeedway or a short track,” Blaney said. “We had a fast car there in the first race and there are a lot of things you take from that race, and can learn and apply to the next race whether it’s how the draft works or what line to take.
“We have a lot of confidence going into Talladega and hopefully we’ll have an even better run than we had in the first race,” he said.
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins also is confident as the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing team heads to Talladega.
“We’ve had good cars at every speedway race and there’s no reason to think that we won’t have one again,” Bullins said. “Those races are all about dodging bullets and putting yourself in the right position at the end. We’ve managed to do that and that’ll be the plan this time.”
When asked if he anticipates any changes in strategy or setup five months removed from the Ford Fusion’s best finish of the season, Bullins said, “I wouldn’t do a thing differently than we did last time. We had a strong car and made good pit calls to stay up front all day.”
Ford Performance PR If there was a downside to the May Talladega race for the 21-year-old Blaney it was that he couldn’t count on any other drivers to help him make a move late in the race. Does he think he’s earned any respect from his elders throughout a season of clean racing? “I think so,” Blaney said. “Whenever you go to a speedway and run well, and don’t do anything to make other drivers mad or make any stupid mistakes, the veteran drivers trust you more. Hopefully we’ll have more friends. It’s kind of a product of how you run earlier in the race so that’s something we’ll have to earn.”