Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team earned their fifth top-10 start in 14 tries this season by taking the ninth starting spot for Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The rookie Blaney and his rookie crew chief Jeremy Bullins have maintained the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team’s tradition of having fast Fords when the Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway, the two tracks where restrictor plates are used to keep speeds at a relative safe level.
Blaney qualified a season-best third at Talladega in May, and the team returned this week with another fast car. He was second fastest in final practice on Friday with a best lap at 196.342 miles per hour, then sixth best in the opening round of qualifying Saturday afternoon before ending up ninth overall with a lap at 192.509 mph. He was the second-fastest Ford driver and one of four Fusion drivers to be among the 12 drivers in the final round of qualifying.
“Being in the final round was our goal, and we accomplished that,” said Len Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
Starting just behind Blaney are Team Penske drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, and Wood said it will be nice to be among drivers who share equipment and technology with the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team. “The Team Penske cars are right there with us,” he said. “That should be good when it comes to drafting in the race.”
Blaney also likes the idea of starting the race among his fellow Ford drivers.
“We’ve got four Fords in the top 12, so that was really good to know we have that speed and are surrounded by teammates,” he said. “That’s good to have and makes you a little bit more comfortable.”
Blaney, who finished fourth at Talladega in May, said he’s looking for another good day at the Alabama track.
“I think we have a good car for tomorrow, and we’ve got a pretty fast one,” he said. “We’ll just try to stay up front most of the day and hopefully avoid any troubles, and maybe we’ll be in a position to make a run towards the front at the end.”
Wood Brothers Racing PR