If you need evidence of how competitive the NASCAR Playoffs are, consider this: Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing team came to Charlotte Motor Speedway ninth in the standings, finished the Bank of America 500 a strong eighth in overtime and left the track 11th in the championship chase.
Although Blaney and the Wood Brothers team are in 11th place, they are only five points away from the Round 2 cutoff with two of the team’s best tracks, Talladega and Kansas, next on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team started the race 15th after a so-so qualifying result, and were handicapped when Saturday’s practice session was rained out and hadn’t practiced any race runs on Friday. As a result, Blaney started the race with a loose race car and finished Stage 1 where he started.
“It stinks we couldn’t get any (more) stage points, especially in that first one, but I thought we did a good job of getting better throughout the race,” Blaney said.
The Wood Brothers’ iconic No. 21 started Stage 2 in 14th place, got into the top 10 by lap 121 of 334 scheduled laps and finished Stage 2 in 9th, collecting two vital stage points.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane pit crew helped Blaney with adjustments throughout the day despite a malfunctioning jack that hampered the team’s pit road efficiency.
“We were a lot better at the end of the race than what we were at the beginning,” Blaney said. “That says a lot about the team and hopefully we can keep it up and run decent the next two weeks. I’m proud of the effort to get better and the hard work, so that’s what we needed. We just need to start better.
“It’s solid,” he continued. “I was just really loose in all day over the bumps and things. That was something we tried to get better at and we got a little better, but we needed a little bit more.”
The eighth-place finish at Charlotte was the team’s 11th top-10 outcome of the 2017 season. It also was Blaney’s best finish at the North Carolina speedway.
Blaney sits in 11th in the standings with 3,039 points, 67 points behind the leader Martin Truex, Jr. and five points from the Round 2 cutoff.
The NASCAR Playoffs continue next Sunday, Oct. 15 with the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway when the No. 21 will be in its Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center livery. The green flag drops at 2 p.m. and will be televised on NBC.
Ford Performance PR