Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team will strive to end their rollercoaster 2015 season on a high note when they unload in Homestead, Fla., for the Ford EcoBoost 400 and Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Blaney’s rookie NASCAR Sprint Cup season, as well as that of his crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, has been marked by highs and lows. The highs include a fourth-place finish at the spring Talladega race, 12th at the Brickyard, 14th in the fall Charlotte race and seventh in the recent Kansas race. Lows include engine trouble in four races, three qualifying rainouts and an early race crash at the recent Texas race.
“It's very important to end the season with a good run,” Blaney said. “Ending on a high note is always important in any sport.”
“I think you always want to leave Homestead on a positive note, because if you don’t then you have to wait until February to get another opportunity,” Bullins added. “During the season if you have a bad race for any reason, you don’t have to wait too long to give it another shot, but having to sit on a bad finish at Homestead all winter is no fun.”
Although this will be the 21-year-old driver’s first run at Homestead-Miami in a NASCAR Sprint Cup car, Blaney has eighth- and fourth-place finishes at the track in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and has placed 28th and second there in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“Homestead has been a good track over the years,” Blaney said. “It’s one of the most race-able tracks out there.”
According to Bullins, “The toughest part about Homestead typically is practicing during the day for an event that will end at night. Another challenge is the different lines you will use during the weekend. You might run the bottom for a few laps on new tires, then move all the way up to the wall, and perhaps another line will work better for you for later in a run. Figuring all that out in practice is a challenge.”
Despite its 65-year history of successful NASCAR racing, the venerable Wood Brothers Racing team has not had a lot of success at the Homestead-Miami circuit. The team’s best finishes in south Florida were ninth place showings in 2002 and 2004 with Elliott Sadler and Rickey Rudd, respectively.
Blaney and Bullins want to change that and make some noise of their own during the 400-mile race that determines the NASCAR Sprint Cup season champion.
“We can add some attention to ourselves by winning the race,” Blaney said.
Bullins said the team has been strong in the Chase races in which it has run. “Chicago we were top 10 in practice before qualifying was rained out,” he said. “Charlotte we were top of the board off the truck and easily could have had a top 10 before settling for a top 15. Kansas we had speed all weekend and wound up with a top 10. Talladega we again had a top 10 run going until the part failure. Texas we were in the top 10 when we contacted the wall.
“When you look at it like that, when you can consistently be in the top 10 during the Chase, you get attention because everyone else is bringing everything they have trying to win a championship,” Bullins continued. “So we don’t need to do anything different. We just need to keep being competitive at Homestead.”
Ford Performance PR