Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team head back to Pocono Raceway this weekend hoping for a repeat of their performance there on June 11 when Blaney scored his first career Cup win and the Wood Brothers’ 99th.
A sweep of the season’s races at Pocono isn’t all that uncommon. Bobby Allison did it in 1982, Bill Elliott followed in 1985, the late Tim Richmond did it in 1986, as did Bobby Labonte in 1999, Jimmie Johnson in 2004, Denny Hamlin in 2006 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2014.
“If we were to pull it off on Sunday that would put us in a pretty nice group to be in,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion.
Wood pointed out that also in Blaney’s favor is his strong run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday as Indianapolis and Pocono have similar characteristics including long straightaways and low banking in the turns.
“We had a really fast car at Indy,” Wood said. “We didn’t get the finish we thought we could have there, so we’d like to have a good run and get some points at Pocono.”
With the two Pocono races being just a few weeks apart, the notes from June should apply this time around as well, which gives crew chief Jeremy Bullins a chance to apply what he learned in June as well as what worked well at Indianapolis on Sunday.
Wood cautioned that there are few sure things in the sport, and there’s no guarantee that the No. 21 Fusion will be as fast as it was last month.
“For whatever reason, the second Pocono race is usually different from the first,” he said.
One major difference is in the weekend schedule.
The opening practice session is Saturday at 9 a.m., and the second and final “Happy Hour” practice is at 11:30 on Saturday. Then on Sunday morning, qualifying begins at 11:30 a.m., and the race is scheduled to begin just after 3 p.m. with TV coverage for both qualifying and the race on NBCSN.