As Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team heads to Chicagoland Speedway to kick off their first-ever appearance in NASCAR’s playoffs, team co-owner Eddie Wood is hoping for a strong run over the final 10 races. But foremost on his mind at this point is that he’s simply glad to be among the elite 16 teams that will begin the run to the championship.
“It’s truly an honor to be a part of it,” he said. “I’m proud of our race team. I’m proud of all of our sponsors – Motorcraft and Quick Lane and the people at Ford Motor Company.
“And I’m thankful for our alliance with Team Penske and all the people there. We rely on them so heavily and they’re a big part of us being in the playoffs.”
Wood said that it took a lot of work by a lot of people over the course of the 26-race regular season to get into the elite 16. The clincher was a victory in June at Pocono Raceway.
Now it’s a matter of performing at a high level and seeing how the races play out.
“You need to be aggressive, but no so much that you get in trouble,” Wood said. “And you need to make smart calls and not second-guess yourself.
“I’ve always believed that if you think long you think wrong. Your first thought is usually the right one.”
Wood also recognizes that the playoffs typically see the teams involved step up their performances, and he believes that will be the case again this year.
“The competition is tough, as tough as it’s ever been,” he said.
For Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, there’s little reason to look too far down the schedule. The elimination format for the playoffs will see four teams dropped after each three-race round leaving just four to compete for the title at the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Wood said all the races in the playoffs are important, especially the three in Round One.
“If you’re fortunate to run well and finish up front in those races or even win one and advance, then you start worrying about the next three,” he said. “You’ve got to take them one at a time.”
Qualifying for Sunday’s 400-miler at Chicagoland is set for Friday at 5:45 p.m. (6:45 Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.