Author Archives: Jordan Wood

Blaney Scores Third Top-10 Of 2017 at Fontana

86f02dedc0396ddf1815fdb655ed2baf-1Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team battled back from a pit-road penalty that sent Blaney to the back of the pack after the first stage and came home with a ninth-place finish in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

It was Blaney’s third top-10 finish in five races this season and the 14th of his brief 59-race Cup career.

Blaney’s No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion was strong from the beginning of Sunday’s 400-mile race that concluded NASCAR’s western swing. He moved from his 19th starting position into the top five during the opening 60-lap stage. By the end of the stage, he was ninth, earning two points. A penalty for removing equipment from his pits on the pit stop following Stage One sent him to the rear of the field, but he managed to stay on the lead lap through the entire second stage.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said the penalty was assessed because one of the team’s gas cans slid just outside the pit boundary.

“We had a lot going on during that stop,” he said. “We were pulling tape from the front end and fixing damage to the right-front fender. It was kind of a freak thing, but Ryan did a great job keeping us on the lead lap, and the crew had some fantastic stops the rest of the race.”

8dbc935128c6e4863e5d95152912f622-1 After hanging on to the lead lap through Stage Two, Blaney restarted 13th for the start of the third and final segment of the race. He was a top-10 and top-15 contender throughout. The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew was at its best as the laps wound down, and on the final “money stop” gained Blaney four spots on pit road, which put him in sixth place with five laps to run.

One final caution sent the race into overtime, and Blaney lined up fifth for the run to the finish and wound up ninth.

“Most restarts worked in our favor except the last one,” Blaney said. “We just got put three-wide there and kind of got hurt. Not a bad day for us coming back from that pit-road penalty. That was pretty good.”

Blaney’s finish preserves his seventh-place position in the Cup standings heading into this weekend’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, home track for his Wood Brothers team.

 

Blaney To Start 19th In Auto Club 400

7fbb1099773688efb986554bcc3cf49f-1Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team were among a number of their peers at Auto Club Speedway on Friday that had to hustle to get out of the NASCAR inspection line in time to qualify for Sunday’s Auto Club 400. In fact, five drivers never got on the track during qualifying.

Blaney did, with a few minutes to spare, and posted the 21st-fastest time in the first of three qualifying rounds.  His speed of 183.950 miles per hour was fast enough to propel him to the second round. There, he was 19th fastest, at 183.641mph, but that wasn’t fast enough to advance to the final round, so Blaney will line up 19th on Sunday.

He said in his post-qualifying comments that the scramble to get through inspection didn’t hamper him once he got on the track.

9e199e8e666be2f510c4161458d2cd3b-1“No. I just think we missed it,” he said. “We were a little too free in practice, and we probably over-adjusted a little bit and got on the tight side.

“It’s something to learn from for the next time we come here.”

Blaney felt better about his speed in Friday’s opening practice session, where the No. 21 Motorcraft /Quick Lane Fusion was atop the speed charts for a time before ending the session seventh fastest with a best lap of 187.471 mph. He and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team spent much of that practice round preparing for race conditions.

“I think in race trim we’re going in a good direction, so we’ll see how that goes,” he said.

After two practice sessions on Saturday, the Auto Club 400 is set to get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday (3:30 Eastern Time) with TV coverage on FOX.

California Has Been Good To The Woods

12039442_10153759744743145_5761322120496907121_nAs Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team prepare to race in this weekend’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., there are several reasons for them to be optimistic.

For starters, Blaney is solidly in the top 10 in Cup points after the first four races of the season, and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion has shown good speed each week this season with third- and second-place starts in the past two races.

Then there’s the Wood Brothers’ history in the state of California, where the team has won 10 races, 12 poles and scored 32 top-five finishes. They’ve accomplished that with some of auto racing’s greatest drivers behind the wheel of their iconic No. 21 Ford.

Two of the tracks where the Woods have had the most success are in the same general vicinity as the speedway in Fontana.

Riverside International Raceway, a 2.6-mile road course that was a regular Cup stop from 1958-1988, was about 30 miles from the Fontana track. Ontario Motor Speedway, a 2.5-mile oval that hosted Cup races from 1971-1980, was about 10 miles away.

At Riverside the Woods won seven times, four with Dan Gurney driving and three more with David Pearson. At Ontario, A.J. Foyt won twice in the No. 21, with Pearson also winning one.

The list of drivers who scored top-five finishes at those two tracks reads like a Who’s Who of American Motorsports. In addition to Foyt, Pearson and Gurney, it includes Curtis Turner, Cale Yarborough, Marvin Panch, Dave MacDonald, Neil Bonnett and Kyle Petty.

The Woods also have a runner-up finish on the road course at Sonoma with Ricky Rudd driving.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that even though his team hasn’t had the success at Auto Club in recent seasons that it did on the other tracks nearby, he believes racing history has a way of repeating itself.

“I feel really good going to California,” Wood said. “Racing here has been good to the Wood family for a long time, and now that we’re off to a pretty good start this year, we’d like to be able to add Ryan Blaney’s name to the list of drivers who have had wins and good finishes for us in California.”

Qualifying for the Auto Club 400 is set for Friday at 4:05 p.m. (7:05 Eastern Time), and the race should get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday (3:30 Eastern) with TV coverage on FOX.

Blaney Finishes A Disappointing 23rd at Phoenix

57f1ad1f8029432eb8e8d09aee53ad07-1For the first 250 laps of Sunday’s Camping World 500k at Phoenix International Raceway, Ryan Blaney and his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford were among the race leaders.

Blaney started a Cup-career-best second and ran in the top 10 through the first two 75-lap stages of the race, earning seven championship points between the two stages.

But along the way, the adjuster that allows the driver to adjust the track bar from the driver’s seat malfunctioned, putting Blaney at a disadvantage as the laps rolled by in a green-flag run. Unable to adjust to the wearing tires and changing track conditions, he faded as the laps went by each run. And, it seemed that almost every time there was a restart, including the initial start, he was lined up on the inside lane, which was not the preferred groove.

On a caution-flag pit stop just after a lap 257 crash by Cole Whitt, Blaney was caught speeding on pit road, which dropped him from 13th to 26th in the running order and made an already difficult situation even more challenging.

He regained several positions and was working on moving into the top 20 before the race’s final caution for a crash by Joey Logano set up a two-lap overtime finish.

Blaney opted for four fresh tires during the final caution period, and the positions lost on pit road during that stop set him back once again, leading to a 23rd-place finish.

“There was a lot of craziness out there,” Blaney said in his post-race comments. “I thought our car was OK in the beginning, and we were trying to get it better.”

“About halfway through the race our track-bar [adjuster] stopped working, which was bad. That really hurt us. That really hurt from being able to adjust our car throughout the run. That is what we needed.  We take for granted those things.”

“Then I sped on pit road, and that put us in a bigger hole. We had an issue, and then I compounded the issue by speeding and you can’t have that. I made a mistake on that deal. We will just have to go on to Fontana and see what we’ve got.”

Blaney remains sixth in the Cup standings heading into this weekend’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Blaney Qualifies A Cup-Career-High Second At Phoenix

e32d2cde1b4660fabe125d50e5b45b69-1Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team turned in another strong qualifying performance on Friday at the Phoenix International Raceway as Blaney posted a career-high second-place effort to complete an all-Ford front row for the start of Sunday’s Camping World 500k.

Just a week after qualifying third at Las Vegas, Blaney took the second spot at Phoenix, which was the best starting spot for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team since Trevor Bayne started on the outside pole at Daytona International Speedway in July, 2011.

Blaney, who was fifth fastest in practice with a best lap of 136.157 miles per hour, was among the leaders throughout all three rounds of knock-out qualifying at Phoenix.

His lap at 135.731 mph in the first round was third best, while he improved to second place in the second round with a lap at 136.731 mph.

In the third round, which determines the pole, he posted his best speed of 136.877 mph during his second and final lap to earn a spot alongside pole-sitter and Ford teammate Joey Logano.

fbda1fa1ca4716ee5f0dedff959311d2-1 In his post-qualifying comments, Blaney said he and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team worked over the winter to figure out how to be better in knock-out qualifying, and that work is now paying off.

“We sat down, my team and I, and tried to figure out what we need and what is more important, going from round to round, and what really helps our car,” he said. “The last two weekends we have shown really good speed in qualifying trim. It is nice to have fast race cars. You have seen it the past two weeks.”

He said the alliance with Team Penske and its drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, has been a factor as well.

“Our Wood Brothers car and the Penske group have been fast in qualifying trim,” he said. “That is something to be proud of as the two organizations work well together. We just needed a little more to get there but we were close.”

Blaney said the alliance offers a chance for him to bounce ideas of off Keselowski and Logano, while others on both teams share information as well.

“The Penske group has been very open to what we need and not only on the driver’s side with Brad and Joey but on the team side as well,” he said. “Our crew chiefs are very close and sit down a lot and same with the engineers. Everyone back at the shop, they all work together.”

“I think that is what you need to have a successful team, even if it is a one-car team and you don’t have a teammate. The more you can share information, the more you are willing, the better all around it is.”

“That has always been the model at Penske since I got there and it is nice to have the Wood Brothers in the same loop as well. That has helped us out more than I could ever think it would.”

Blaney went on to say he wants to do whatever it takes to keep the good results coming to his Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.

“We want to get better every single week, be aggressive, work really hard,” he said. “It is really early in the year and you never know how mid season goes, but you always have to keep improving.”

“I feel like the fire in everyone’s belly is burning bright. They want to be competitive and show and prove to everyone that the Wood Brothers deserve to be up there, because they do.”

“They work hard enough to be up there. It is nice to start off strong, but it is all about always improving, getting better and staying up there, staying on top of your game. You can never really get relaxed because other teams and drivers are always getting better.”

“It is nice to be ahead at the beginning of the year. You never want to play catch-up. You want to be ahead and try to stay ahead.”

Sunday’s Camping World 500k is set to get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. (3:30 Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.

Blaney, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team On A Roll Heading Into Phoenix

6796_10153742430693145_1931846419425700811_n Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team head to Phoenix Raceway with the momentum that comes with having fast cars for the first three races of the 2017 season.

And Phoenix was one of Blaney’s better tracks during his rookie season as he posted finishes of eighth and 10th in his two starts there.

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins said the team is showing improvement in its sophomore season as evidenced by one top-five and two top-10 finishes in three races along with 37 laps in which the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion posted the fastest lap of any car.

“We definitely kept up our strong start to 2017 in Vegas, coming away with a solid top 10,” Bullins said. “We feel like we probably had a top-five car, but it shows the growth of our team to overcome a loose wheel and be in the top five on the last restart of the race.

“We got blocked a little on that restart and it killed our momentum or we feel like it could have been our second top-five in three races.

“That’s got everyone in a good mood as we head back out west to Phoenix this weekend.”
Bullins said based on Blaney’s performance at Phoenix last year, he expects good results again this weekend.

1a8eb6fa03a0422439c37f2772ae7c79-1 “I felt like Ryan really figured that track out quickly,” he said. “We qualified well in the fall and look forward to competing for the pole as well.”

Blaney tied his best qualifying performance of his career last weekend at Las Vegas with a third-place effort after posting the fastest overall lap during the second of three qualifying rounds.

This weekend, he has more data to work with than he did at Las Vegas or at Phoenix last year.

“We had the opportunity to test at Phoenix before the season started and feel even more prepared than we did last year,” Bullins said. “All in all, it’s shaping up to be a good week for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion.”

Qualifying for the Camping World 500k is set for 4:45 p.m. (7:45 Eastern Time on Friday, and the 312-lap race is scheduled to start just after 12:30 p.m. (3:30 Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.

Blaney, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Continue Fast Start To 2017 With Seventh-Place Finish At Las Vegas

ebc8520e70a353238214b23e9e204988-1Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team continued their strong start to the 2017 season with a trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway that saw them fast in practice, qualifying and the race. And they head to Phoenix International Raceway sixth in the points standings after a seventh-place finish in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas that netted them 43 points, including 13 earned by finishing in the top 10 in the first two stages of Sunday’s race.

Blaney’s finish, along with that of his Ford teammates Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer, gave Ford four of the top-10 finishers in Sunday’s race.

The finish also gives Blaney two finishes of seventh or better in the three races run so far this season, the other being a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500.

On Sunday, Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team had to overcome several obstacles on the way to his 13th top-10 finish  – and his eighth on an intermediate track – since joining the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.

Early in the race, he ran in the top five after starting third but had to make an unscheduled pit stop. That extra stop also meant that the team had to use one of its allotted eight sets of tires that it had planned for use later in the race. Then, on the final restart, Blaney got bogged down by the slow start of a driver in front of him.

4bb205993091b3b62610b1e2c1765c66-1 “I thought we are a little bit better than that,” Blaney said in his post-race comments. “We had to come in early in the race and that put us behind.”

Despite the extra stop, Blaney motored his way back into the lead pack and was poised to race for a top-five finish when the green flag flew for the final run to the checkered flag.

“Our car was good enough and once we got back inside the top 10 I felt that we had a shot at fourth or fifth, but that last restart didn’t go our way,” Blaney said. “Good car. Good effort overall. I can’t thank the Wood Brothers enough.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team now head to Phoenix Raceway for the second of three races in NASCAR’s western swing with high hopes of building on their performance in the first three races of this season.

In two starts at Phoenix last year, Blaney had finishes of 10th and eighth.

Blaney Posts Fastest Qualifying Lap at Las Vegas, Will Start Third On Sunday

ebc8520e70a353238214b23e9e204988-1Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team put forth a strong effort on Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and wound up with the third starting position for Sunday’s Kobalt 400.

Blaney was seventh fastest in the opening practice session with a best lap at 192.356 miles per hour. Then during qualifying he was 15th in the first of three rounds with a lap at 192.280 mph, assuring that he would advance to Round Two.

After crew chief Jeremy Bullins and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team made some adjustments for the second round, Blaney ran a lap at 194.147 mph, the fastest of the 24 drivers who advanced from the first round and the fastest speed turned by any driver in the three sessions.

In the run for the pole, Blaney was third fastest with a lap at 193.410 mph, earning him the third starting spot for Sunday.

12024e89675c301f66895230ffc109b5-1It was Blaney’s best qualifying effort since a third-place start at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015, and the best qualifying run on an intermediate track by the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team since Elliott Sadler won the outside pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2002.

Blaney said in his post-qualifying comments that what pleased him most was the team’s consistent performance from the start of the day to the finish.

“I thought we made good improvements from practice and that was nice,” he said. “The first round we weren’t great. The second round we got really good.

“[The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew] made a good adjustment on that one.”
Blaney appeared on pace to win the pole in the third qualifying round before losing a bit of speed at the end of his lap.

“The third round I thought we had it through [Turns] One and Two, and then we got held up by traffic in Three and Four,” he said. “I think we were close. We showed speed in our car. We go to work [Saturday] and see what we have in the race. Starting third isn’t bad.

“We’ll try to improve on that.”

Sunday’s race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. (3:30 Eastern Time) with TV coverage on FOX.

Blaney, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Feeling Upbeat About Vegas

12790927_10153722760668145_871815309123363552_nFord Motor Company’s NASCAR teams head into this weekend’s races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on a roll, having won the first two Cup races of the season and scoring eight other top-10 finishes.

Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are among those headed West with momentum after having fast Ford Fusions in the first two races of the season.

Blaney finished second at Daytona and was poised for another strong run at Atlanta Motor Speedway before early tire troubles left him mired deep in the field for much of the race.

Still, the entire Motorcraft/Quick Lane team is focusing on the positives of the first two races of 2017.

“I guess on paper it looks like Atlanta didn’t go very good for us, but in reality our car had a lot of speed and we fought hard to overcome a lot of adversity as a group,” crew chief Jeremy Bullins said. “I was really proud of our team and how everyone responded and kept their head in the game and kept fighting.”

Even with an 18th-place finish at Atlanta, Blaney is eighth in the championship standings heading to Las Vegas, where Bullins expects the good performance to continue.

caba7090cd00851c88d08356fd2e77fe-1 “We’ve had two fast Motorcraft/ Quick Lane Ford Fusions to start the season, and I’m confident the car we are taking to Vegas is just as good,” he said, adding that the team’s chassis set-ups seem to work well on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas. “Las Vegas fits Ryan’s liking – we tend to gravitate toward the fast, intermediate tracks – and that showed last year finishing sixth.”

“It should be a good week to keep the momentum going that we’ve started the season with, and we can’t wait to get the West Coast swing of the schedule started.”

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said this weekend’s race will be another test of the new aerodynamics package, with its short rear spoiler and other tweaks that are intended to put a driver’s skills to the test.

“I’m looking forward to another opportunity to see where we are with our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion,” he said. “The new package seems to suit Ryan’s style.”

“I think we’ll be OK.”

Qualifying for Sunday’s 400-mile run is set for Friday at 4:45 p.m. (7:45 eastern), and the race is scheduled to start just after 12:30 p.m. (3:30 eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.

Ryan Blaney to Start 14th on Sunday

Atlanta1In his second Atlanta Motor Speedway appearance in a Monster Energy Cup car, Ryan Blaney picked up considerably from a year ago by posting the 14th best lap in Friday’s qualifying session for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

Blaney advanced out of the first of three qualifying rounds with a lap at 187.875 miles per hour. In the second round, he was again 14th, with a speed of 186.623. Last year he started 23rd.

Atlanta is a track where the Blaney family has shown great speed. Blaney’s father Dave, now retired from the Cup series, had one of his best career runs at Atlanta in the spring race of 2001, when Ryan was just seven years old.

In that race, Blaney started seventh and was dominating the race by the midpoint in Bill Davis Racing’s No. 93 Dodge.

Blaney took the lead for the second time on Lap 149 and led for 12 laps. He regained the top spot at Lap 164 and drove away from the field, leading 54 straight laps.

But his charge ended at that point when his crew left lug nuts loose on his car, and he fell out of contention.

For his career, his 91 laps led at Atlanta were more than at any other track.

Ryan Blaney said his father has talked to him about what it takes to be fast on Atlanta’s worn pavement.

“He’s helped me out on driving on slick worn-out race tracks,” Blaney said. “He was really good here at Atlanta and at Darlington.”

“That comes from him racing on dirt and being light on the throttle.”

Atlanta2Blaney said he would like to honor his father by winning a race at Atlanta – or any other track for that matter.

“It would be cool to get a win for dad here or at least have a good run,” he said.

Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew also have been hard at work figuring out how to be fast on tracks like Atlanta, where conserving tires is one of the keys to success.

“We’ve put a lot of thought over the winter into what we need to do with the race car to be successful on old tracks and with slick tires,” he said, acknowledging that the work they’ve done in that regard won’t be as helpful when the circuit returns to Atlanta next year and races on a repaved surface.

“I hate to see old pavement go,” Blaney said. “Any driver in this garage will tell you they love racing on worn pavement, but this track’s time has come.”

The Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 is set to get the green flag just after 2:30 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.