Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion finished the Toyota Owners 400 in 28th place at Richmond International Raceway.
After starting 29th due to qualifying being rained out on Friday, Blaney was a lap down by lap 30 but progressed up the leader board to 20th by the half-way point of the 400-lap event at the ¾-mile, D-shaped track.
“It was a struggle all day for us,” Blaney said. “We weren’t very good in the beginning and got a lap down early and short-pitted. That actually worked out well for us. We still ended up a lap down but kind of gained a few spots.”
Blaney got the Wood Brothers’ iconic No. 21 back on the lead lap late in the race when the yellow flag flew for the eighth time and he took a wave around. He lost that lap, however, three laps before the checkered flag.
“We raced hard for the Lucky Dog all day and at one point I thought we had it but they gave it to somebody else, which was unfortunate,” he continued. “That made us kind of be on equal tires the rest of the day as we were taking wave-arounds. It was just a big struggle today. The second run I thought we were okay but then we just kind of lost the track a little bit. It was tough. We have to go back and I have to do a better job and we all have to figure something out here for the next race. It is a good learning day though. We learned a lot and it is a good character builder for sure.”
Although he was stuck in the middle of the pack all day, the rookie driver said he enjoyed the racing at Richmond.
“Yeah, the cars were all over the place – the bottom, middle and top,” Blaney said after climbing out of his red-and-white Ford. “The top rolled pretty well at the beginning of the race when it was fresh. Then rubber got laid on it and it wasn’t very good. You could roll the middle pretty good. I was best in the middle. I couldn’t run the bottom at all. It looked like the leaders ran the middle too. That is promising I guess. We can move around the racetrack a lot and I think Goodyear did a decent job with that and bringing a good tire for us. That was fun.”
Blaney and the Wood Brothers now head to Talladega Superspeedway for the Gieco 500 where they had their best finish of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season – fourth.
Ford Performance PR