Ryan Blaney piloted the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion to a solid 11th place in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he was left unfulfilled.
Despite notching his third top 15 finish and his fifth top 20 of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Blaney said he was disappointed.
"It was good until the end,” he said after climbing out of the Wood Brothers’ iconic No. 21. “We should have run fifth, easy.”
The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender was running in fifth with fewer than 40 laps to go when three consecutive caution flags put him on the bottom lane for re-starts.
“The bottom is terrible here,” he said. “You can't go anywhere on the bottom. If you're lucky enough to re-start on the top then you'll move forward even if you have a terrible race car. We had a good race car and got stuck on the bottom for three straight re-starts and went backward. That's pretty disappointing when you know you have a top-five race car."
After starting 18th, Blaney charged into the top 15 by lap 86. By lap 148 he was running in the top 10. He was running in the top five at lap 205 and was scored in second place during the 228th circuit of the “world’s fastest half mile.” All of this advancement was done while dealing with a car that was loose in the corners.
"We were okay for a little bit and then fell off,” he explained. "That last run when we were running fifth was our best run (handling). We could do a lot of stuff. We got it better throughout the day. Unfortunately (the race) didn't play out for us."
The 11th-place finish moves Blaney up a place, from 20th to 19th, in the driver points standings.
Blaney and the Wood Brothers now head to Richmond International Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400.
Ford Performance PR