Ryan Blaney started and finished the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in 10th place for his best finish at the half-mile Tennessee motorsports colosseum and his ninth top-10 result of the season.
“We persevered all night and I’m really proud of our team getting the car better,” Blaney said after climbing out of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane No. 21 Ford. “We had great short-run speed, fantastic short-run speed, for maybe 15 or 20 laps, then that middle portion we would struggle and the really long runs I thought we were pretty good. Just that middle stage we were kind of rough.”
Blaney ran the Wood Brothers iconic No. 21 Fusion in the top 10 all evening. He was running fourth with 80 laps remaining, hoping for a caution period that would allow him to get his last set of tires. When the race went green the rest of the way, Blaney was overtaken by cars with fresher rubber.
“I wish those guys at the end with (new) tires didn’t get us,” he said. “I didn’t think there’d be that long of a (green-flag) run at the end. I thought there’d be a caution and we’d be able to come get tires and we’d be in a good spot but that’s the way it goes.”
Although Blaney said the car he had in the spring race at Bristol was a better-handling vehicle before the power steering went out, he said he enjoyed the racing with the way the track was treated this time around.
“I didn’t think we were as good as the spring race,” he explained. “I thought we were a little bit better in the daytime. At night our car didn’t seem to handle as well. And the VHT was a lot different. It was only about half the width that it was in the spring. I think that played a little bit of a part of it. It was fun to play with the VHT and know when to run in it and when not to. I thought the lanes were pretty even from the top to the bottom and that made it really fun. NASCAR and the track did a good job to discipline themselves to not put a ton down and just enough to make it decent.”
The strong run at Bristol, dedicated to long-time Wood Brothers Racing crewman Butch Morticle who passed away suddenly earlier in the week, is just what the team needed as they gear up for their first run in the NASCAR Playoffs.
“These solid runs are what we need to build on for the playoffs in a few weeks and hopefully we can get some solid momentum going into those,” Blaney said.
Blaney currently sits eighth in the NASCAR Playoff standings with his June Pocono win and eight playoff points. He is 12th in the overall driver standings, 328 points behind leader Martin Truex, Jr.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew, along with the rest of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, has next weekend off then head to Darlington Raceway for the annual NASCAR Throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500.
For Darlington, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford will pay tribute to the Wood Brothers’ 1987 Citgo Ford Thunderbird that Kyle Petty drive to victory lane in that year’s Coca-Cola 600.
Ford Performance PR