Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team rode the momentum of a strong sixth-place run at Las Vegas into Phoenix International Raceway on Friday and came away with the 12th starting spot for Sunday’s Good Sam 500.
The rookie Blaney and his rookie crew chief Jeremy Bullins had never before been to Phoenix with a Sprint Cup car, but quickly got the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion up to speed in opening practice.
Blaney’s best lap of 137.101 miles per hour put him 12th on the speed chart, and he backed that up by qualifying in that same position.
But to do it, he had to advance through the first two rounds of knock-out qualifying and make his first appearance of the season in the third and final round.
Blaney was 5th fastest in the first round and 11th in the second, but dropped to 12th in the final round, interrupted by a red flag brought out for a crash by Jimmie Johnson. His official qualifying lap was at 136.307 mph.
“It wasn’t bad,” Blaney said. “We didn’t have a lot of speed that last round unfortunately, but it isn’t a bad day for us making it to the last round.”
“That is about all you can ask for, and we worked hard at it today. The guys on the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have been working really hard, and they have made me a really fast Fusion, so I am most looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can do in the race on Sunday.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he was particularly pleased with the performance, given Blaney’s and Bullins’ inexperience at the one-mile oval in the Arizona desert.
“I’m proud of how far they’ve come in a short time,” Wood said. “We’ll go back to work tomorrow and give it our best on Sunday.”
The Good Sam 500 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.