After missing two straight Sprint Cup races because of rain on qualifying day, the sun shone brightly at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Blaney and his Wood Brothers team responded with a strong effort in qualifying for Sunday’s New Hampshire 301.
Blaney, who was 10th fastest in practice on Friday morning, led the way in the first of three rounds of qualifying with a lap at 134.373 miles per hour.
His Ford Fusion was a little tight in the second round of the knock-out style qualifying session, and he wound up with a speed of 134.009 mph, which was good enough to grab the 16th place starting spot for Sunday’s race.
“We definitely got a lot tighter the second round for some reason,” Blaney said. “I’m not sure why. I thought our SKF Ford Fusion was really, really good in the first session obviously with being the fast time.
In the second one, on both laps we were just really too tight and couldn’t get the front end to do anything, so we’ll go back and try to figure out why we lacked a lot of grip the second run.”
Blaney said he was glad just to be on the track for qualifying and for the race on Sunday.
“The past couple weekends have been pretty tough on us with Daytona and Kentucky getting rained out, knowing we had a fast car,” he said. “I think we’ve got a fast SKF Ford Fusion for this weekend. It’s not the starting spot we wanted, but I think our race car will be pretty good, and we’ll find that out [Saturday] in practice.”
For team co-owner Eddie Wood, topping the scoreboard after the first qualifying round was even sweeter than it might have been otherwise, given the disappointment of the past couple of weeks when his team had cars fast enough to qualify but didn’t get the chance due to weather issues.
“It was really exciting to see the No. 21 at the top of the board,” Wood said. “We’re really proud of Ryan and [crew chief] Jeremy Bullins and the rest of the SKF team. They put forth a great effort, and we’re all looking forward to Sunday.”
Sunday’s 301-lap race is set to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. eastern time on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.
SKF, the Knowledge Engineering Company, manufactures bearings, seals, mechatronics, and lubrication systems. The company also offers a broad scope of services that include technical support; maintenance and reliability services; engineering consulting; and training. Other SKF Group Brands include Lincoln Industrial, specializing in centralized lubrication systems, Kaydon and Cooper specialty bearings, and ACE motion control products. Today the SKF Group has +50 production facilities in North America and is present in more than 130 countries, with 15,000 distributor locations worldwide. Annual sales in 2014 were $8.5 billion and the number of employees was 48,593. For more information about SKF and its complete range of products and services, visit www.skf.com.