Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team spent Tuesday and Wednesday of this week testing their No. 21 Ford Fusion at Watkins Glen International in preparation for the Aug. 7 Cheez-It at the Glen.
But crew chief Jeremy Bullins said the two-day test also will benefit the team this weekend at Pocono Raceway.
“It’s not a bad thing to have a road-course mindset going into Pocono,” Bullins said. “With the three distinct corners, you’re usually looking at how to make a car better in different circumstances, much like a road course. On top of that the strategy plays out much like a road course as well.”
There are other similarities too.
“Both events put an emphasis on braking as well, so there are multiple tie-ins between the two events.”
Bullins said Blaney, who will be racing a Sprint Cup car on a road course for just the second time in his career, is adapting well to the twists and turns of the Glen.
“Watkins Glen is a very fast road course, and it seems to suit his style nicely,” he said.
When the road-course test concludes, both Bullins and Blaney are anxious to get back to Pocono Raceway, where Blaney finished 10th back in June and where their Wood Brothers team has two wins, in 1975 with David Pearson driving and in 1980 with the late Neil Bonnett at the wheel.
“Going back to Pocono will be fun for us,” Bullins said. “The first race there is still pretty fresh on our minds, and coming away from our first race there with a top-10 gives us confidence for a good weekend.”
Although the team’s odds of making the field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup were made longer by a late-race wreck at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and by an early crash at Kentucky Speedway, Bullins and Blaney are continuing to focus on the basics with a goal of getting as good a finish as possible.
“We are at the stage of the season where everyone starts talking a lot more about the Chase and who’s in and out, and we’re in the middle of that conversation,” Bullins said. “Crashes at Indy and Kentucky haven’t helped our cause, but to be honest we don’t really spend too much time talking about it.”
“We just keep our heads down, preparing fast cars and trying to get the best finishes we can each week. If we do that, we will be where we want to be when it counts.”
Qualifying for the Pennsylvania 400 is set for Friday at 4:15 p.m. and the race is scheduled to start just after 1:30 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.