Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team backed up their sixth-place finish at Las Vegas a week ago with a 10th place finish in Sunday’s Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
It was the first back-to-back top-10 finish for the Wood Brothers team since Ricky Rudd scored a pair of ninth-place finishes at Kansas and Charlotte in the fall of 2005.
Blaney qualified 12th for the 500-kilometer run at Phoenix, where he’d never before raced a Sprint Cup car.
He stayed inside the top 15 for the majority of the race, and had worked his way into the top 12 when the caution flag flew with six laps remaining.
That set up an overtime finish. The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team opted to pit for fresh right-side tires, and Blaney was able to muscle his way into 10th place at the finish.
“That wasn’t bad,” Blaney said in his post-race comments. “We fought really hard all day. We got a lot better throughout the day.”
“The guys did a great job with two tires at the end. I thought about staying out, but we wouldn’t have been on the first two rows I don’t think so we had to come in and get two. I think it picked us up one spot.
“It was a good day and a good job by everybody on this Motorcraft Quick Lane team and a top-10 car is all I could ask for.”
With his Phoenix finish, Blaney moves from 14th to 12th in the Sprint Cup standings, just 11 points out of the top 10. He also continues to lead what is shaping up to be a tight battle with Chase Elliott for the top spot in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contest.
For team owner Eddie Wood, watching the rookie Blaney and his rookie crew chief Jeremy Bullins at work is a pleasure.
“I’m just so proud of everyone on this Motorcraft/Quick Lane team,” Wood said. “They backed up their finish from Las Vegas. Ryan did a really good job staying with it all day. I didn’t want to see that last caution come out, but it wound up working out in our favor.”
Wood also is enjoying the rookie contest between the two young drivers.
“I’ve known Ryan and Chase since they were little boys,” he said. “Seeing them race for Sunoco Rookie of the Year is a lot of fun. It looks like it’s going to be a great battle between them from week to week.
“I’m excited to move on to California and do it all again next week.”