After a little slip in qualifying on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Ryan Blaney will start 30th in Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400. But for his race team and the people who support it, where Blaney starts isn’t nearly as important as the fact that he’ll be in the starting field.
Since the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane/JDRF Ford Fusion team doesn’t run the full Sprint Cup schedule, Blaney has to make the race on speed. He accomplished that with a lap around the Brickyard at 180.919 miles per hour.
For team co-owner Eddie Wood, having the No. 21 Ford Fusion on the grid on Sunday morning is a relief after missing two recent races – at Daytona International Speedway and Kentucky Speedway – when weather issues led to the cancellation of qualifying.
“We’re just happy to be in the show,” Wood said. “We didn’t qualify as well as we ran in practice, but we will be fine for the race.”
For Wood and others on the team, one of the most satisfying aspects of the current race weekend is getting to share it with eight-year-old Maryn Winters, who designed the paint scheme that’s on the car for the Brickyard as part of a contest sponsored by Motorcraft and Quick Lane. The program is part of the efforts of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to eliminate type 1 diabetes.
Maryn, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age four, raised $3,460 at www.fordracecar.jdrf.org during her second year participating in the contest. Her design features children holding balloons that spell out “HOPE” and “JDRF,” a rainbow and flowers. It was selected from 10 finalists by the Ford Customer Service Division, JDRF and Wood Brothers Racing.
Wood said Maryn, who lives in Basehor, Kan., is fitting right in at the Brickyard.
“Maryn seems excited about being here,” he said. “She’s never been to a race before, but she’s a NASCAR fan now. She wants to know more about what we’re doing, and she looked right at home sitting in the car.”
Sunday’s Crown Royal 400 is set to get the green flag just after 3:30 p.m. with TV coverage on NBCSN.