Blaney, the son of veteran NASCAR and sprint car racer Dave Blaney, nephew of sprint car standout Dale Blaney, and grandson of the late short track legend Lou Blaney, drove the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion as a substitute for Trevor Bayne, who was at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where his Nationwide Series schedule conflicted with Sprint Cup practice and qualifying.
Blaney, who will become the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team’s regular driver next season, also will drive the No. 21 in Saturday’s practice session before turning it over to Bayne for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
Blaney was 27th in practice with a best lap of 199.756 miles per hour and then qualified 28th with a lap at 202.327 mph. Nevertheless, Bayne will have to start from the rear on Sunday because of the driver change.
“It was a good day of work with everyone here at the Wood Brothers team,” Blaney said. “We didn’t get the qualifying lap in that I wanted to. I am excited for tomorrow to be able to get some race runs in and hopefully get it pretty good for Trevor for Sunday.”
Part of Blaney’s challenge was trying to adapt to the more powerful Cup cars while still practicing in his Ford F-150 in the Camping World Truck Series, where he’s the current points leader.
“It is good to get out here and get my first laps on Michigan in a Cup car,” he said. “It is a whole lot different than those trucks over there I will tell you that. It is all about learning and helping these guys out as much as I can. I am just happy to be here.”
Eddie Wood, who co-owns the Motorcraft team founded by his father Glen Wood and one that now includes his brother Len and sister Kim, as well as third-generation members Jon, Jordan and Keven, said he was impressed with Blaney’s work on Friday.
“He did a great job for his first time here in a Sprint Cup car,” Wood said. “He gave the crew great feedback, and I was very impressed with his calm, focused approach to the whole day.”
The Pure Michigan 400 is set to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.