Texas Motor Speedway was not a happy place for Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers Racing team last season. The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team is looking to change that in 2016 when it unloads for the Duck Commander 500, this weekend’s Saturday night race.
“Texas wasn't good for us last year,” recalled Blaney. “We had really fast race cars but things never ended well for us.”
A year ago in the Lone Star State, Blaney started 13th in the spring race and finished 42nd after an engine failure, and started 25th in the fall and placed 43rd after an accident.
“Every week is a new opportunity and we will approach it the same way we do every other week,” crew chief Jeremy Bullins said. “The reality is we had really fast cars there last year so we look forward to going back.”
So far in 2016, in Blaney and the legendary No. 21 have been a steady presence in the top half of the field, sit 15th on the points chart and in the thick of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year competition.
“It’s nice to consistently race every weekend,” Blaney said. “It’s also nice to have cars close (to being race ready) unloading off the truck. Just fine tuning is what we need to do pretty much (during practice).”
Bullins outlined some of the challenges NASCAR Sprint Cup teams face at Texas Motor Speedway.
“The low-downforce package and tire combination will likely make for more fall-off so having a good-handling car throughout the stages of a run will be important, and maybe even more important than last year,” he said. “The bumps over the tunnel in turn one are usually somewhere you have to work on making sure your car turns.”
Despite Blaney’s relative inexperience at running a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, he has the attitude of a seasoned veteran when it comes to running different kinds of tracks from week to week. The 1.5-mile Texas comes after the half mile at Martinsville and before another short track at Bristol.
“It doesn't matter too much switching from short track to intermediate to short track,” Blaney explained. “Martinsville and Bristol are very draining mentally and physically. At the bigger tracks you do get a few more breaks.”
The practice session for Duck Commander 500 qualifying begins at 5:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 7 and can be seen live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Qualifying will take place at 4:24 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 8 and will be broadcast live on FS1. Final practice also will take place on April 8, at 6:30 p.m. and be shown on FS2. The Duck Commander 500 begins on FOX at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 9.
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Wood Brothers Look to Tame Texas Motor Speedway
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