Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team came away from the Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway with a 10th-place finish and some growing momentum heading into an off week followed by the final two races of the regular season.
Saturday night’s finish was Blaney’s ninth top 10 of the season and his second in the past three races. In between he had a 15th-place finish at Michigan, and he and the team head into the off week 12th in the championship standings.
Blaney started 10th and finished the first 125-lap Stage in seventh place, collecting four bonus points. It was the 19th time this season that he has scored stage points, and he now has 168 stage points.
He finished outside the top 10 in the second stage due to damage from contact on the track and the misfortune of having to restart several times on the bottom line, which was slower than the top on restarts.
He and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team gambled on a late-race caution and saved its last set of tires for a yellow flag that never flew.
Still, Blaney was optimistic about his team’s prospects going forward when he spoke with reporters after the race.
“We were probably a little better at the beginning and we had really good short run speed and really good long run speed, but that middle portion wasn’t the best,” he said. “It’s something to be proud of. I wish those guys at the end with tires didn’t get us, but I didn’t think they were going to run all those green flag laps.”
“I thought there was going to be a caution, and we could come get tires and be in a good spot. That’s the way it goes. We persevered all night. I’m really proud of our team getting our car better.”
He added that the solid runs of recent weeks are just what he and his team are looking for at this point in the season.
“That’s what we need to build on for the playoffs in a few weeks,” he said. “Hopefully we can have some solid momentum going into [the playoffs].”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that while he would have liked to have had a better finish to honor the memory of his cousin and fellow team member Butch Moricle, who died unexpectedly last week, it’s hard to be disappointed with a 10th-place finish at Bristol.
“Any time you can have a car that will still roll at the end of Bristol and a top-10 finish, you take that and be happy with it,” Wood said. “And it was nice to see [track owner] Bruton Smith at the drivers’ meeting and a good crowd in the stands.”
“They’ve had some bad luck with weather here the last few races, and it’s looking like Bristol is on its way back.”
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team will enjoy a week off before getting back to work at Darlington Raceway in two weeks.