A good measure of a race team is how it responds to adversity. Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team lived up their sponsor’s name, “Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center” by giving a good account of themselves in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. They rebounded from a broken axle and finished 24th, which dropped them just one position to 12th in the championship standing.
Blaney started seventh and finished the first 100-lap Stage in seventh place, earning four points. He was running fifth late in Stage Two when an axle broke during a pit stop.
Blaney drove to the garage, and a little over two minutes later was on his way back onto the track. He re-entered the race in 38th place, five laps behind the leaders. By race’s end he had worked his way back to 24th, four laps down.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said his crew made quick work of what can be a time-consuming task.
“It was amazing they fixed it that quickly,” he said, adding that the crew was lucky to be able to simply knock both halves of the broken axle out. “Usually you have to take the gear out to get the other piece, but they were able to knock it free.
“I would never have expected to finish 24th with a car that at one point was up on jackstands while the green flag was flying.”
Wood pointed out that the axle failure was not due to any mistake on the part of Blaney. Sometimes axles break during pit stops when drivers release the clutch as the jack is being lowered, putting too much pressure on the axle.
“That wasn’t the case,” Wood said. “Ryan didn’t do anything wrong.”
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team used the wave-around to regain one lost lap, but the way the cautions fell in the 600 took away other opportunities to make up lost laps.
“Once you get several laps down, there really aren’t many chances to make up laps,” Wood said.
There were other benefits as well to keeping the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion running to the finish.
“Family members of Sgt. Gregory Belanger, the fallen hero we were honoring, were there on the pit box with us,” Wood said. “They stayed through the end of the race.
“With the rain delay, it was actually Memorial Day by the time the race ended, so that was fitting.”
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team returns to the track this week at Dover International Speedway.
“Our cars have been fast all season, and I’m sure we’ll have another fast one there,” Wood said.