Category Archives: 2017

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.

Blaney, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Finish 18th At Atlanta Despite Early Setback

For the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, a somewhat disappointing day at Atlanta Motor Speedway was much easier to take because their No. 21 Ford Fusion had the speed to finish much higher than the 18th place it wound up.

On Sunday, in the Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500, Ryan Blaney was on the march from the drop of the green flag, moving from his 14th starting position to seventh in the first 30 laps.

But just a few laps after his first pit stop he returned to pit road under the green flag due to a vibration. The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew changed tires and returned him to the track one lap behind the leader, which ordinarily wouldn’t be cause for great concern.

But for the first two-thirds of Sunday’s race, caution flags, other than for the ends of the first two 85-lap stages, weren’t flying, and a timely yellow flag was what Blaney needed most to rejoin the lead lap.

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins tried several strategies, including short pitting, to regain the lost ground, but the timing of subsequent cautions rarely worked in his favor.

Making the situation even more frustrating for Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team was the fact that Blaney was holding his own, even when he was riding tires with far more wear than those of most of his competitors.

Still, when the checkered flag fell, with Blaney on pit road with another tire issue, he was still inside the top 20.

“With the way everything played out, I think we were pretty lucky to come away with an 18th-place finish,” said team co-owner Eddie Wood. “Ryan hung in there all day, and we’re proud of him for that. And the whole team kept battling all day even when it was looking like we were headed for a bad finish.”
As it is, Blaney is in eighth place in the championship standings, 27 points behind leader Kevin Harvick as Ford drivers hold four of the top five spots in the standings and five of the top eight. Ford drivers also have won the first two Cup races of the season with Kurt Busch winning the Daytona 500 and Brad Keselowski taking the checkered flag at Atlanta.

“It’s hard to be disappointed leaving Atlanta when Ford is two for two on the season,” Wood said. “And it was good to see our friends at Team Penske win the race for Ford at Atlanta after Kevin Harvick had problems late in the race. Kevin had a really fast car.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team will be back on the track next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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.

Wood Brothers Looking To Build On Their Rich History at Atlanta

The Wood Brothers and Atlanta Motor Speedway have a lot in common, besides their history with each other.

The Woods are one of NASCAR’s cornerstone teams, having run their first NASCAR race back in 1953 and continuing today, where they’re the sport’s longest-participating team.


Atlanta Motor Speedway, formerly known as Atlanta International Raceway, is one of the sport’s cornerstone tracks. It was part of the original superspeedway boom back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when tracks opened in Daytona, Charlotte, Atlanta and Hanford, California.

The big, fast tracks joined Darlington Raceway on the NASCAR circuit, and other than the failure of Marchbanks Speedway in California, the three new tracks helped transition NASCAR from a sport built around dirt tracks to the one fans enjoy today.

And just like many a race team, the Atlanta track has had its share of troubles, but persevered to be a major player in the sport today. If not for the dedication of people like Atlanta’s former track superintendent Alf Knight, AMS might not have survived its early struggles and eventual bankruptcy in the 1970s.

“Those people back in the day came up with a plan to keep it going to the point where Bruton Smith could come in and give the track a lot of security,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion. “Under his leadership they modernized the place, changed the track from a true oval to a quad-oval and secured the track’s place on the NASCAR schedule.”

 Through the years, the Wood Brothers and their Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have built a rich history at the Atlanta track. The Woods ran in the track’s inaugural race in July of 1960 and have run 103 more races since, sometimes entering two cars in an event. They’ve won 12 times, scored 33 top-five and 45 top-10 finishes and captured nine poles. That’s more victories than at any track other than Daytona International Speedway, where the Woods have 15 Cup triumphs.


The Woods got their first Atlanta victory in the spring of 1965, with Marvin Panch driving. Panch added another that fall. Cale Yarborough and David Pearson had three Atlanta wins apiece in the No. 21, Neil Bonnett had two, A.J. Foyt had one as did Morgan Shepherd, who won the 1993 Motorcraft Quality Parts 500.

“We’ve had some of NASCAR’s greatest drivers win for us at Atlanta, and we’re looking forward to a chance to add Ryan Blaney’s name to the list,” Wood said, adding that a strong run and second-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 has the team in a good frame of mind heading into Atlanta. “It’s like getting a push in the draft. A good finish at Daytona gets you ready for the rest of the season.

“You worry all winter long about the Daytona 500, and if you come out of there with a good finish it makes the other races some easier because you haven’t put yourself in a bad spot in the points standings.”

Qualifying for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is set for Friday at 5:45 p.m., and the race should get the green flag just after 2:30 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.

Blaney’s Runner-Up Run Secures 1-2 Finish For Ford In Daytona 500

Thanks to some quick work by the Wood Brothers crew and some heads-up driving by Ryan Blaney, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team was able to do its part to deliver Ford Motor Company a 1-2 finish in NASCAR’s biggest race.

Blaney, in a back-up No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion, charged from 40th place at the start into the top five in the first 26 laps of Sunday’s 59th annual Daytona 500, then into the lead by lap 49.

From there until the end of the race, Blaney had to overcome damage from two multi-car collisions. But on the final lap he used a drafting push from his Ford teammate Joey Logano to surge into second place behind race winner Kurt Busch, who gave Stewart-Haas Racing a win in its first points-paying race under the Ford banner.

Aric Almirola, driving the No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports, also came on strong at the end to finish fourth. It was the first time since the 2001 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway that the Wood Brothers and the Pettys, long-time rivals and fast friends for decades, both finished in the top five in a points-paying Cup race.

In that 2001 race, Elliott Sadler, driving the No. 21 Ford, won over John Andretti in the No. 43.

At Daytona, most of the top finishers, including Busch and Blaney, had considerable damage to their cars.

“Looks like everyone ran a race at Martinsville,” Blaney said in his post-race comments, referring to the beating and banging style of racing that is common on the short track at Martinsville Speedway. “Everyone’s stuff was torn up.”


Blaney’s Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew got a major test of their skills under the new five-minute clock instituted by NASCAR this year. That new rule gives teams just five minutes to repair their car enough to get it back up to minimum speed or the car is not allowed to continue in the race.


Team co-owner Eddie Wood said his crew was able to get the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion back on the track and back up to speed despite having to beat the clock.

“They fixed it the best they could,” Wood said. “You have to be mindful of the clock and not let it run out.”

“They did a great job under the circumstances.”

As the laps wound down on Sunday, Blaney found himself mired in the middle of a lead pack that seemed content to run single file for most of the final 20 laps.

 “I tried to make a move with 10 to go to see what would happen,” Blaney said. “No one really went with me. The 22 [Logano] tried to. It really wasn’t happening. I was kind of worried it was just going to end that way.”
Then he and Logano hooked up on the final lap.

   “Luckily I got Joey behind me there down the front stretch, and we were able to lay back to him and get a huge run into [turn] one,” Blaney said. “At that same moment, the 41 [Busch] went to go past the 42 [Kyle Larson], and it kept my run going, all the way up to second.”

Blaney’s final scare came when his fuel supply ran low, a problem that many of his competitors were experiencing at about the same time.

“I started kind of running out the gas there into [turn] three,” he said. “We started sputtering pretty bad.  Luckily it made it back to the line.”

Blaney emphasized that his best career Cup finish was due in large part to having a fast Ford and to the maturity of its driver and crew, including his spotter Josh Williams. He said that although his primary car was knocked out during Thursday’s qualifying races, his back-up was just as fast.  And he said he felt like his own restrictor-plate racing skills are improving.

“It was definitely a little bit of both with the car and myself, and myself and Josh Williams up top, my spotter, getting a little bit more comfortable with each other and communicating really well,” Blaney said. “He’s done a great job.”

 He added that the strong start to the 2017 season gives him and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team a boost heading into this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“It was a good way to start off the year,” he said. “Stinks to be so close, but I think that’s good momentum for our team, to be good at the beginning of the day, get some damage and be able to rally for a good finish.”

For Wood, the team owner, the bottom line from Daytona is a strong finish for Ford Motor Company.

“Having Fords finish first, second and fourth is a great way to start the season,” he said. “And it’s especially nice to be a part of that with Edsel B. Ford II [Board Member] and Joe Hinrichs  [President of the Americas for Ford Motor Company] there to experience it with us on our pit box.”

Blaney, thanks to his finishing position plus nine points earned in the first two stages of the Daytona 500, now sits 2nd in the driver standings heading into the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 5.