Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team turned in another strong qualifying performance on Friday at the Phoenix International Raceway as Blaney posted a career-high second-place effort to complete an all-Ford front row for the start of Sunday’s Camping World 500k.
Just a week after qualifying third at Las Vegas, Blaney took the second spot at Phoenix, which was the best starting spot for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team since Trevor Bayne started on the outside pole at Daytona International Speedway in July, 2011.
Blaney, who was fifth fastest in practice with a best lap of 136.157 miles per hour, was among the leaders throughout all three rounds of knock-out qualifying at Phoenix.
His lap at 135.731 mph in the first round was third best, while he improved to second place in the second round with a lap at 136.731 mph.
In the third round, which determines the pole, he posted his best speed of 136.877 mph during his second and final lap to earn a spot alongside pole-sitter and Ford teammate Joey Logano.
In his post-qualifying comments, Blaney said he and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team worked over the winter to figure out how to be better in knock-out qualifying, and that work is now paying off.
“We sat down, my team and I, and tried to figure out what we need and what is more important, going from round to round, and what really helps our car,” he said. “The last two weekends we have shown really good speed in qualifying trim. It is nice to have fast race cars. You have seen it the past two weeks.”
He said the alliance with Team Penske and its drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, has been a factor as well.
“Our Wood Brothers car and the Penske group have been fast in qualifying trim,” he said. “That is something to be proud of as the two organizations work well together. We just needed a little more to get there but we were close.”
Blaney said the alliance offers a chance for him to bounce ideas of off Keselowski and Logano, while others on both teams share information as well.
“The Penske group has been very open to what we need and not only on the driver's side with Brad and Joey but on the team side as well,” he said. “Our crew chiefs are very close and sit down a lot and same with the engineers. Everyone back at the shop, they all work together.”
“I think that is what you need to have a successful team, even if it is a one-car team and you don’t have a teammate. The more you can share information, the more you are willing, the better all around it is.”
“That has always been the model at Penske since I got there and it is nice to have the Wood Brothers in the same loop as well. That has helped us out more than I could ever think it would.”
Blaney went on to say he wants to do whatever it takes to keep the good results coming to his Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
“We want to get better every single week, be aggressive, work really hard,” he said. “It is really early in the year and you never know how mid season goes, but you always have to keep improving.”
“I feel like the fire in everyone’s belly is burning bright. They want to be competitive and show and prove to everyone that the Wood Brothers deserve to be up there, because they do.”
“They work hard enough to be up there. It is nice to start off strong, but it is all about always improving, getting better and staying up there, staying on top of your game. You can never really get relaxed because other teams and drivers are always getting better.”
“It is nice to be ahead at the beginning of the year. You never want to play catch-up. You want to be ahead and try to stay ahead.”
Sunday’s Camping World 500k is set to get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. (3:30 Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.