Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, having already proven this season that they are capable of great finishes on superspeedways and intermediate tracks, added road courses to that list with a strong run at Sonoma Raceway.
In his second Cup start at the California track, Blaney started seventh, finished ninth and picked up 11 stage points along the way via finishes of fourth in the first 25-lap stage and seventh in the second.
He ran in the top 10, and as high as second place for much of Sunday’s race, but spent the latter portions working his way forward following his final pit stop. That stop, which left him in 26th place when he rejoined the race, was more lengthy than usual as the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew had to deal with body damage from contact earlier in the race.
“The guys did a good job getting the tires off and pulling the fenders out so there wouldn’t be a tire rub,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said, adding that the final outcome, like many other road races on the circuit, was determined in large part by race strategy.
He said crew chief Jeremy Bullins made some good calls.
“The strategy Jeremy played worked out and helped us get a top-10 finish,” Wood said.
Blaney, who was running on a road course in the Cup series for just the third time, said he was pleased with the outcome.
“It was pretty physical out there,” he said. “We had a long green-flag run there at the end. There were some different strategies, and we kind of played to the side of if there was a caution at the end we would be in a good spot. That is why we had some of the oldest tires out there.”
“We were still able to make moves and pass some cars.”
“It is good to end up about where we should have, where we deserved. A big improvement from last year so that is nice.”
“It is a good run for us and hopefully bodes well for Watkins Glen as well.”
The next stop for Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team is at Daytona International Speedway, where Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 kicks off the unofficial start of the second half of the Cup season and gives Blaney and the team a chance to build on their runner-up finish in the season-opening Daytona 500.