Ryan Blaney and Jeremy Bullins finished their rookie Sprint Cup season with a 17th-place finish in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday night.
Blaney started 6th and ran as high as 2nd before falling back during some early caution periods.
Fittingly, the rookie Blaney got to race door-to-door early in the race with the retiring Jeff Gordon in Gordon’s final race, much like Gordon was able to race Richard Petty in Petty’s final race in 1992 at Atlanta.
Blaney’s No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion appeared to be faster than Gordon’s car at that point, but the rookie didn’t make any daring moves to pass.
“When I was racing with him I thought it was his last race and he's racing for the championship and you don't want to jeopardize his championship,” Blaney said. “You don't want to race him too hard and put him in a bad spot.”
“I was more concerned with his running for the championship than the fact that it was his last race.”
Blaney did eventually get by Gordon, on the next pit stop thanks to some swift work by the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew.
As the laps wound down, Blaney began to deal with a loose handling condition that kept him from improving his position, and he had to settle for 17th at the finish.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he was proud of the team’s overall effort, both at Homestead and throughout the 2015 season, and is looking forward to getting to work on 2016, when the team will return to a full-time schedule.
For Wood, one of the many advantages of running full-time is getting the opportunity to run for the championship and be a part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“That’s something that will be new for us and new for Ryan,” Wood said. “The 2015 season is behind us, and I’m already looking forward to Daytona.”
Wood Brothers Racing PR