Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team expect the momentum gained from their top-20 finish in last week’s Daytona 500 to help them improve at this Sunday’s NSC Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Blaney ran in the top 10 and top 15 for most of the “Great American Race” before being stuck in the uppermost lane of three-wide racing that never seemed to be able to move forward near the end.
“Knowing we had a fast car at Daytona is encouraging going to Atlanta,” Blaney said. “Running all the laps last week has also helped momentum.”
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins was encouraged as well by the speed in the Wood Brothers’ iconic No. 21 Ford Fusion at Daytona. He says, however, the regular season starts in Atlanta.
“The majority of the races we will run are on intermediate-length tracks like Atlanta, thus we often say the regular season starts this week,” Bullins said. “The superspeedway races are a different breed altogether and require a completely different approach from the rest of the season. Atlanta will show us where we stack up against the field and give us an indication of our strengths and weaknesses as we get going into the heart of the schedule.”
One issue that hampered the team at Daytona was loose wheels. Bullins said the team analyzed the problem and feels it’s been corrected.
“Overall I think our team did a great job for the weekend,” he said. “We had no other mechanical issues, and our pit stops were excellent for the day if you remove the loose-wheel issue. Not a bad way to start the season.”
Although he hasn’t raced a NASCAR Sprint Cup car at Atlanta, Blaney ran there during the 2012 Camping World Truck Series season when he started 12th and finished 11th. He also participated in a tire test session at the track last fall. Since so much has changed with the cars and the tires since then, Blaney said he’ll be “pretty much learning the track all over again.”
He’ll have a lot of help learning the circuit as this will be the Wood Brothers’ 104th start at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The team has captured nine poles and 12 checkered flags at the track, the last in 1993 with Morgan Shepherd behind the wheel.
Practice sessions for NSC Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 qualifying begin at 11 a.m. ET on Feb. 26 and can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Qualifying will take place at 5:45 p.m. ET on Feb. 26 and will be broadcast live on FS1. The practice session for the race will shown on FS1 at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 27. The NSC Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 begins on FOX at 1 p.m. ET.
Ford Performance PR