To be successful at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a race team needs a fast car, a good pit strategy and at times some good luck.
The Wood Brothers and their Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have enjoyed all three at times over the years.
With the long straightaways and tight turns of New Hampshire, passing can be difficult, thus the need for a good pit strategy and the luck. The Woods have used a combination of both to score two runner-up finishes at New Hampshire - in 1995 with Morgan Shepherd driving and in 2003 with Ricky Rudd at the wheel.
Last year, with Ryan Blaney at the controls of the No. 21 Ford Fusion, the car was fast, but unfortunate events on pit road led to a 23rd-place finish after strong performances in practice, qualifying and the early laps of the race.
Jeremy Bullins, crew chief of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion, said during a break in testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that he’s anxious to get back to New Hampshire and build on the achievements there last year.
“When I look back at 2015, Loudon is a place that we had a really good car,” he said. “The results won’t show it, but we definitely had good speed all weekend.”
“Not only were we fast in just about every practice, but we led round one of qualifying.”
Bullins also is mindful of the pitfalls that can set a team back, especially with the races being a relative short 300 miles, leaving little time to overcome miscues.
“We made some mistakes along the way, and didn’t execute in a few situations as well as we should have, but I know we have learned a lot in the year that’s gone by,” Bullins said, adding that he’s ready to call on the resources of Team Penske, which shares an alliance with the Wood Brothers and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team. “It’s a place that Team Penske has had a lot of success, and that certainly gave us a good place to start.”
Bullins also feels that his team’s success earlier this year at Phoenix International Raceway, which is similar in layout to New Hampshire, is an indicator of the team’s potential this weekend.
“I feel like our Loudon speed was reflected this year by a top-10 run at Phoenix,” he said. “If we do the right things, we are confident we can have another top-five capable car like we had last week at Kentucky Speedway.”
Qualifying for Sunday’s 301-mile run is set for Friday at 4:45 p.m. and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 1:30 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.