As the Sprint Cup Series heads to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 and the traditional start of the second half of the season, there’s a sense of optimism in the Motorcraft/Quick Lane camp.
After the first 16 races, rookie driver Ryan Blaney is 17th in the points standings, 16 points out of 15th place, which would put him in the running for a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup based on his position in the standings. He has finished in the top 25 on 13 occasions. Among those finishes are six top-10s with one of them a fifth-place at Kansas Speedway.
Now Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team begin a stretch of races where they will be returning to tracks with the benefit of experience they didn’t have the first time around, as Blaney had never raced Cup cars on eight of the 16 tracks on the schedule.
For rookie crew chief Jeremy Bullins, the first swing around the Cup circuit has gone by in a hurry.
“As I finished up my Sonoma post-race summary on Monday, it blew me away that we are at the ‘halfway’ point of the season,” Bullins said. “Heading to Daytona for the second time this year has us excited as we have so much confidence in how our speedway cars have raced.”
The anticipation doesn’t end there.
“I'm even more excited to be going back to so many tracks for a second time, and even a third or fourth time counting back to last year,” Bullins said. “The more we run the more Ryan learns and the better we get as a team.”
Bullins said that the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has a lot to be proud of at this point in Blaney’s rookie season.
“To be sitting here 16 races in, knowing we are in a position to earn our way into the Chase via points is a testament to the job he and the team have done in our first full season working together,” he said. “I'm still confident we can put ourselves in position to win before the season is over.”
He said the team’s performance at Kansas in May, where Blaney was the highest finishing Ford driver, shows that the driver and team are building on their experience, as the May race was the third appearance at Kansas for Blaney and Bullins, including one start in 2014 in a Team Penske Ford.
“We ran for the third time and got a top-five,” Bullins said. “If we start cracking off top-10s and top-fives, good things happen.”
Still, Bullins said, he and Blaney will continue to approach each upcoming race with the same determination and work ethic that they have so far in their time together.
“We truly don't talk about points or goals,” he said. “We just work hard and try to run the best we can every week.”
“All the teams I've been a part of, if you go about your business the way you should, all those things tend to take care of themselves.”
Optimism Abounds As The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Returns To Daytona
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