In his first 33 races as a Sprint Cup driver, Ryan Blaney has proven to be pretty adept at making left turns. In qualifying for his 34th career start, on the road course at Sonoma Raceway, he showed that he’s also good at turning right.
Blaney, in his first Cup start on a road course and first start in any kind of vehicle at Sonoma, qualified the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion in 26th position for Sunday’s 110-lap run. His official qualifying speed was 94.436 miles per hour.
Blaney made two qualifying laps and ran essentially the same time the second lap even though he had to negotiate traffic.
“The first one was OK,” he said, acknowledging that his time was good enough to assure that the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team would be in the race on Sunday. “We went out and were going to be better, and we had to pass cars and we still ran the same time.”
He said he expects to continue learning the course as the race begins to unfold on Sunday.
“We have to keep all the fenders on it and stay out of trouble,” he said. “If you do that, you can work your way through there. It's all about staying patient.”
Blaney, who dead-panned in his pre-qualifying TV interview that the most difficult parts of the track for him to learn were between Turns One and Eleven, said in all seriousness that the winding, up-and-down-hill track is challenging.
“I don't think we're particularly weak in any set of corners,” he said. “I feel like we lose a little bit on every one.
“I've got to look at the data and see where we stack up. It's definitely something to look at tonight and compare with our (Team Penske) teammates who are pretty good, and see where we wind up compared to them.”