A strong ninth-place finish in the ISM Connect 300 today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway elevated Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team from 10th to eighth in the NASCAR Playoffs standings going into the final race of the first round next week at Dover.
Although only a win guarantees a driver transfer to Round 2 of the Playoffs, eighth is more comfortable than 10th when only 12 of 16 eligible teams advance.
“You’re never really comfortable with your position unless you have a win,” Blaney said after the race. “Dover has been a decent track for us and it’s just a matter of finishing it and seeing what we can do.”
The Wood Brothers’ famous No. 21 Ford started the New Hampshire race fourth after an outstanding qualifying effort on Friday. He moved up to second when the green flag dropped and stayed in the top 10 for nearly all of the 300-lap event.
Blaney finished Stage 1 in fifth, collecting six critical stage points that eluded him last weekend at Chicagoland. A ninth-place Stage 2 finish netted another two stage points, which when combined with the points for finishing the race ninth moved Blaney up two spots on the Playoff grid.
“We were kind of in that fifth to 10th range all day and we ended up with a decent finish,” Blaney said. “We worked hard on this race track. It definitely has not been one of my best, but it’s nice to see a decent run here. We finished OK and go on to a place like Dover, where we run pretty decent. Hopefully, we can survive next week and move on.”
Blaney said he was fortunate to survive the multi-car wreck that took out several playoff cars, and then a last-lap pass by Daniel Suarez.
“I know some people had trouble and I’m glad we stayed out of it,” he said. “I had a decent run there at the end. This is one place we need to get better at and I’m proud that we did that today.
“It was good racing until the 19 just about took us out coming to the white (flag) for eighth (place),” Blaney explained. “I don’t know why he did that. That’s twice in two weeks he’s done that to me. That wasn’t very cool, but, other than that, the race was really good. The people we were racing with in the Playoffs seemed to race each other with respect, which is nice to see.”
The ninth at New Hampshire is the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team’s 10th top-10 finish of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season.
Blaney heads into race No. 3 of the NASCAR Playoffs with 2,070 points, 79 behind leader Martin Truex, Jr., and 25 above the cutoff.
The first elimination race is the Apache Warrior 400 on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. from Dover International Speedway in New Hampshire. The race will air on NBCSN.
Ford Performance PR