Category Archives: 2017

Blaney Hoping To Build Playoff Momentum Beginning This Week At Kentucky

13612367_10154046587968145_5064523819888876480_nRyan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are hoping to capitalize this weekend on the speed they’ve shown in their past two trips to Kentucky Speedway.

Blaney did not get to qualify in 2015. Because the Wood Brothers were at that point a part-time team without a provisional starting spot he didn’t race. Last year, qualifying was rained out again, but he did get to start and ran among the leaders before being collected in a crash on a mid-race restart.

“I think our Cup cars have actually been really good [at Kentucky],” Blaney said on this week’s NASCAR teleconference. “We haven’t really got the great finishes that I feel like we should have gotten there, but I’m excited to get back.

“I’ve always enjoyed the race track and the atmosphere around it, and the repave of that place, what they did last year, I think hopefully will start to widen out and we’ll be able to have multiple grooves there like it used to be.”

Blaney said he’s hoping a strong run at Kentucky will set the tone for the nine-race stretch run to the start of the 10-race playoffs.

He said would like to “just try to put a solid race together and try to build some momentum before the playoffs start here in a little bit.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are positioned well for a spot in the playoffs due to their victory at Pocono Raceway last month, but relying solely on that win isn’t acceptable to Blaney and the team.

“I don’t think we’re really doing anything different from what we have done all year even before we got the win,” he said. “You go out and you try to win stages and win races just like before and just do what we all have been doing all year.

“I think we’ve done a pretty decent job at it. We’ve won a few stages and won a race. You’re just kind of trying to keep building your playoff status and trying to cushion everything from each round that just carries over.

“We really haven’t changed anything. We just go try to win races and stages and run up front like we’ve been trying to do all year.”

Qualifying at Kentucky is set for Friday evening at 6:15 p.m., and the 267-lap, 400-mile race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on NBCSN.

Late Crash Leaves Blaney 26th At Daytona

7f534fc1a5b0725f3a978383a70aa8c0-1Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion were major players for the majority of Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

But a multi-car crash with six of the race’s scheduled 160 laps left to run ended Blaney’s night and left him with a 26th-place finish.

Up to that point, he’d been able to move through the field at will and led the race for nine circuits, from Lap 127 to Lap 135.

Just prior to the crash that ended his night, Blaney was racing for the top spot, chose the inside lane, but got no drafting help. He dropped back outside the top 20 but was on his way back to the front when Kyle Larson lost control, made contact with another car and sailed into the air right in front of Blaney, who was against the outside wall and had no escape route.

“I am not sure what happened,” Blaney said. “I saw the 42 [Larson] get turned and get up in the air a little bit.

“I just couldn’t miss him. I was already on the top and I hate that I t-boned him. I just couldn’t get out of the way.”

a397644a7274752bf4993e3a08ec0425-1Not being able to race on to the finish was especially disappointing given the speed of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion. Earlier, Blaney collected nine stage points by finishing third in Stage One and 10th in Stage Two. He continued to run among the leaders once the first two stages were complete.

“I thought we had a really good car,” he said. “We were racing hard. Everyone was racing hard.

“I can’t thank Motorcraft Quick Lane and Ford enough for what they do. We had a super fast Fusion, but it is just the way it goes sometimes. We will go on to Kentucky.”

Blaney remains 13th in the championship standings heading into Saturday night’s 400-miler at Kentucky Speedway.

Fast Qualifying Lap At Daytona Earns Blaney His 12th Top-10 Start of 2017

2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, DaytonaRyan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team continued their run of success in Monster Energy Cup qualifying with a ninth-place performance at Daytona International Speedway on Friday.

It was the 12th time in 17 races this season that Blaney has qualified ninth or better.

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team unloaded a fast Ford Fusion at Daytona. Blaney, who finished second in his last race on the 2.5-mile track, was fifth fastest in the opening practice session with a best lap at 197.165 miles per hour. The team elected to skip the Happy Hour session on Thursday.

On Friday, Blaney was seventh fastest in the opening qualifying session with a lap at 189.765 mph. Then he ran a tick of the clock quicker at 189.785 mph in the final round to secure the ninth starting spot for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400.

 “We were consistent,” Blaney told reporters after qualifying. “I think our car has good speed, maybe not as much speed as you want in qualifying but I think our race car is going to be pretty fast (on Saturday night).

“We can see the front, which is nice.”

Saturday’s 400-miler is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. with TV coverage on NBC.

Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Preparing A Fast Fusion For Daytona

13619882_10154031566798145_8669764816246840374_n As Eddie Wood heads to Daytona International Speedway for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400, the co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney figures there’s no better time to be campaigning a Ford Fusion.

Ford drivers have won seven of the 16 Monster Energy Cup races so far this season including two of the past three, one of them being Blaney’s win at Pocono three weeks ago and the other Kevin Harvick’s triumph at Sonoma on Sunday.

And when it comes to racing on a restrictor-plate track like Daytona, the Blue Oval contingent has been especially strong of late.

At Daytona, Ford drivers have won two straight races and four of the past six. They’ve been even more successful at  Daytona’s sister track, Talladega Superspeedway, with four-straight victories and wins in five of the past six races there.

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion also has had some impressive runs on restrictor-plate races in recent years. Trevor Bayne drove the No. 21 Fusion to victory in the 2011 Daytona 500, and Blaney was runner-up to fellow Ford driver Kurt Busch in the most recent 500.

In February, Blaney started the sport’s showcase race from 40th position in a back-up car after his primary was damaged in his Can-Am Duel qualifying race.

But after just 26 laps he was in the top five. Involvement in two multi-car crashes challenged the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crewmembers as they had to deal with the newly instituted five-minute repair clock, which gives teams just five minutes to get a damaged car up to speed or the car is retired from the event.

The repairs were both quick and successful as Blaney worked his way into contention in the closing laps. He saved his best work for the last lap as he charged forward from outside the top five, using drafting help from fellow Ford driver Joey Logano to take the runner-up spot.

“We had a really good race in February, and we’re hoping to do as well this weekend,” Wood said, adding that his team has been fortunate to win eight July races at Daytona with drivers David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnett and Buddy Baker.

Qualifying for the Coke Zero 400 is set for Friday at 4:10 p.m., and the race is schedule to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on NBC.

Blaney Shows Budding Road-Course Skills With Ninth-Place Finish At Sonoma

2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, SonomaRyan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, having already proven this season that they are capable of great finishes on superspeedways and intermediate tracks, added road courses to that list with a strong run at Sonoma Raceway.

In his second Cup start at the California track, Blaney started seventh, finished ninth and picked up 11 stage points along the way via finishes of fourth in the first 25-lap stage and seventh in the second.

He ran in the top 10, and as high as second place for much of Sunday’s race, but spent the latter portions working his way forward following his final pit stop. That stop, which left him in 26th place when he rejoined the race, was more lengthy than usual as the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew had to deal with body damage from contact earlier in the race.

“The guys did a good job getting the tires off and pulling the fenders out so there wouldn’t be a tire rub,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said, adding that the final outcome, like many other road races on the circuit, was determined in large part by race strategy.

He said crew chief Jeremy Bullins made some good calls.

“The strategy Jeremy played worked out and helped us get a top-10 finish,” Wood said.

Blaney, who was running on a road course in the Cup series for just the third time, said he was pleased with the outcome.

“It was pretty physical out there,” he said. “We had a long green-flag run there at the end. There were some different strategies, and we kind of played to the side of if there was a caution at the end we would be in a good spot. That is why we had some of the oldest tires out there.”

“We were still able to make moves and pass some cars.”

“It is good to end up about where we should have, where we deserved. A big improvement from last year so that is nice.”

“It is a good run for us and hopefully bodes well for Watkins Glen as well.”

The next stop for Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team is at Daytona International Speedway, where Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 kicks off the unofficial start of the second half of the Cup season and gives Blaney and the team a chance to build on their runner-up finish in the season-opening Daytona 500.

Blaney Qualifies Seventh At Sonoma

2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, SonomaFor the 11th time in 16 races this season, Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have qualified seventh or better.

The latest came on Saturday at Sonoma Raceway where Blaney qualified seventh in just his third Cup start on a road course. Last year he qualified 26th at Sonoma and 19th at Watkins Glen, the other road course on the Cup circuit.

“That is a lot better than where we were last year,” Blaney said. “We were kind of lost last year.”
The sophomore driver said the biggest change since last year is the experience he gained in his rookie season, both in qualifying and the races.

“You need a lot of finesse, and last year everything was just so fast and I couldn’t slow anything down,” he said. “I think when you get to race at a tough place like this and can sit back after and realize what you need to do different it makes a difference.

775f10e3f47305918d084f89e979eda6-1 “We still have a ways to go to run for poles and wins here, but it is nice to start where we can at least see the front. Last year we couldn’t even see the front.”

Blaney showed consistent improvement through the practices and qualifying at Sonoma. He was 19th fastest in the opening practice with a best lap at 92.805 miles per hour. He moved up to 17th place in the final practice and increased his speed to 93.422 mph.

Then in qualifying, he finished 10th in the first round with a lap at 94.704 mph on his second attempt. In the final round he improved to seventh place with a lap at 94.716 mph, his best lap of the weekend so far.

“It is a nice start for sure, and we have a whole race to move up,” Blaney said. “Hopefully we can stay up front the whole race and get this Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion a good finish here.”

Sunday’s 110-lap, 350-kilometer race is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time with TV coverage on FS1.

Road-Course Racing A Big Part Of Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team History

13502006_10154012432643145_8041375519103290865_nWhen Eddie and Len Wood head west this weekend for the races at Sonoma Raceway, they’ll travel by jet airplane.

But on that flight their minds likely will wander back to the days when they drove the team hauler to road course races at another California track, Riverside International Raceway.

Back in the day, Eddie and Len Wood, now the co-owners of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney, made that long trek in the company of some older members of the team, like their father Glen Wood, uncle Leonard Wood or a crewmember like Kenny Martin.

“We always had someone older with us,” Eddie Wood said. “It sounds like a lot of work to drive that far, but it really wasn’t. Those trips were some of our favorite times in the sport. It was like a game figuring out how long it would take us to get to the next town.”

The Wood Brothers enjoyed great success at Riverside, winning eight times – four with David Pearson, three with Dan Gurney and another in 1967 with Parnelli Jones in a No. 115 Ford that was initially entered by Bill Stroppe but prepared and serviced by the Wood Brothers.

They also have had some strong runs at Sonoma, including a runner-up finish in 2005 with Ricky Rudd driving.

For that race, the Motorcraft team and then-crew chief Michael “Fatback” McSwain used the same chassis that Rudd had driven to victory at Sonoma three years earlier while driving for Robert Yates.

Len Wood recalled that the car had been cut down to the frame and stored at Yates’ shop. But McSwain and Rudd liked it, so the Woods purchased the chassis, and the team built it into a road-racing car.

“The seat was moved to the right, and a lot of other changes were made to adapt it to road courses,” Len Wood said.

Rudd qualified 20th, but the car proved to be much better than that in the race.

As the laps wound down, McSwain, considered by many to be one of the best strategists during his time in the business, made a decision to call Rudd to pit road for fresh tires and fuel as soon as he was in a window to make it to the end of the race.

As other drivers stopped, Rudd cycled into the lead.

He held the top spot for 18 laps before Tony Stewart, riding on fresher rubber, passed him for the win with 11 laps to go.

McSwain said the decision to pit was easy for him.

“It was a gamble, but I wasn’t scared to take it,” he said. “Some crew chiefs worry that they might lose their jobs by taking gambles. But I was more worried about winning than I was about my job.”

McSwain also pointed out that even though the runner-up finish was due in large part to strategy, there was more to it than that.

“It wasn’t like we had a 40th-place car and lucked into a good finish,” he said. “The car was good all day.”

Eddie Wood said that McSwain had a knack for making good strategy calls and for being able to communicate well with his drivers.

Now the Wood Brothers are racing at Sonoma with a young Blaney at the wheel of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion and with Jeremy Bullins on the pit box as crew chief.

Although Blaney has run just two times on road courses, once each at Sonoma and Watkins Glen last year, he has a road-course win in the Camping World Truck Series at Bowmanville, Ont., and two top-three finishes in Xfinity Series races on road courses at Mid-Ohio and Road America.

“It’ll be Ryan’s second Cup race at Sonoma, and he has some other road-course races under his belt,” Wood said. “I feel pretty good about the weekend.”

Qualifying for Sunday’s 110-lap race is set for Saturday at 11:45 p.m. (2:45 Eastern Time) and the race is scheduled to start just after noon (3 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage on FS1.

Late-Race Incident Drops Blaney To 25th At Michigan

2a81843e5fb6bbaac78d9a7a843e30f8-1After running just outside the top 10 for much of Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Ryan Blaney and the crew of his No. 21 Omnicraft Ford Fusion put themselves in position to contend for a win at the end.

But despite running as high as second place in the final 50 laps and as high as third with 15 laps to run, Blaney was swept up in a late-race caution and fell to 25th place at the finish.

Blaney’s undoing was a restart with 10 laps remaining. He lined up fifth on the inside line, a lane that had proven to be a disadvantage throughout the race. On the start, he faded back and made slight contact with the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick. That resulted in a flat tire that sent him to pit road and to the back of the lead draft with just five laps to go.

With sheet-metal damage and panels underneath destroyed from the shredding tire, Blaney elected to nurse his wounded Omnicraft Ford to the finish line in 25th place rather than risk causing an accident in the final laps.

The finish dropped Blaney one spot to 13th in the championship standings.

Blaney told reporters afterward that while he didn’t feel like he had a realistic chance of repeating his Pocono win, he did have a chance to finish second after he and crew chief Jeremy Bullins developed a pit strategy to move up in the field. First, they elected to take two tires on a caution period with 50 laps to go, which moved them from 14th to fourth. Then they stayed on the track when another yellow flew with 15 to go, which put them third for the restart but on older tires.

I think on short runs we could run second,” Blaney said. “We held second for a while then four tires ate us up.”

And there was the issue of having to restart two times on the inferior bottom lane.

3f18fe69f84e3087efd70b30a1755a75-1“That didn’t bode well for us,” he said. “I went into [Turn] One and got super loose. I hate that it took a couple cars out off [Turn] Two. I got really free for some reason. It caught me off guard which made it look bad. We had a decent enough car to run up there once we got track position.”

Blaney went on to say that passing was difficult on the high-speed, two-mile track.

“The fastest cars couldn’t get to the front if they weren’t already there,” he said. “I thought we did a good job of making adjustments to get us a little better. We got into spots, but it just didn’t work out.”

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he was pleased with his team’s efforts to promote a new Ford Motor Company product, Omnicraft.

“We got a lot of good vibes throughout the weekend,” he said. “We were able to explain that Omnicraft offers quality parts for vehicles other than Fords and Lincolns.

“And we could let people know that even if they aren’t fortunate enough to own a Ford or Lincoln they can take their vehicles to Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers, which are known for excellent service, and know they’re getting quality parts.”

Blaney and the Wood Brothers now move on to Sonoma Raceway, where the No. 21 Fusion will be back in its familiar red and white Motorcraft/Quick Lane colors.

Blaney, Omnicraft Ford To Start Sixth At Michigan

00ed5eb60959a19b056c9c704237b167-1It took a second attempt in Round Two of qualifying at Michigan International Speedway, but Ryan Blaney was able to advance to the final round and put the No. 21 Omnicraft Ford Fusion in sixth place for the start of Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400.

Blaney, fresh off a victory at Pocono Raceway, was ninth fastest in the opening practice at Michigan with a best lap of 199.545 miles per hour.

He was ninth fastest in the opening round of qualifying, which allowed him to advance to the second of three qualifying rounds.

His first attempt in Round Two was not fast enough to be among the 12 drivers who advanced to the third round, so he made a second attempt and wound up eighth fastest at that point.

The extra lap on his tires hurt his speed in the final round, but his final lap at 200.854 mph led to a net gain of nine positions, from 15th place where he likely would have started if he hadn’t made a second attempt in Round Two.

2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, Michigan“We made better adjustments for the second run,” Blaney said. “We didn’t adjust enough for the first run of the second round. We got really tight, and tight around here is just scrubbing speed off and we couldn’t run as fast.

“We made a big swing to try to free it up, and I thought we did a good job of getting it closer from the first to the second run in Round Two. We still lacked a little bit of speed overall. It wasn’t a bad last run with an extra lap on the tires.”

Still, it was the 10th time in 15 races this season that Blaney and the No. 21 Ford Fusion have been among the top seven in Cup qualifying.

Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time with TV coverage on FS1.

Blaney Sporting Omnicraft Colors At Michigan

21_OMNIWith their 99th victory secured by a dramatic finish of last Sunday’s Pocono 400, the Wood Brothers will kick off their quest for No. 100 in the FireKeepers Casino 400 at one of their favorite tracks, Michigan International Speedway.

It’s a place that has seen the Woods win 11 times in the past, including the inaugural Motor State 500 back on June 15, 1969. And it’s the home track for their long-time supporter Ford Motor Company.

This weekend, the familiar Motorcraft/Quick Lane colors will give way to the orange logos of Omnicraft, Ford Motor Company’s new brand of quality replacement parts for non-Ford and non-Lincoln vehicles. The Omnicraft brand, which made its debut in January, is Ford’s first new parts brand in 50 years and will give its dealers and the Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers access to quality parts for any vehicle brought in for service.

“It’s an honor to have the No. 21 Ford Fusion be a part of spreading the word about the Omnicraft brand,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “It will be a plus for the company, especially the Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers.”

Michigan International Speedway Odds are, Sunday’s race will come down to a finish similar to the first Cup race at Michigan, which ended in dramatic fashion, something that’s common now but was relatively rare back in the day.

In the inaugural race at Michigan, Cale Yarborough, driving the No. 21 Mercury, prevailed over LeeRoy Yarbrough, driving a Mercury for Junior Johnson, in a fender-banging run to the finish. LeeRoy came out on the losing end. His damaged car didn’t make it back to the start-finish line, and he was credited with fourth place.

David Pearson and Richard Petty capitalized on LeeRoy’s misfortune to finish second and third respectively. All of the top four were driving either Fords or Mercurys.

“Finishes like that, with two drivers beating on each other, weren’t as common back then as they are today,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said.

In Greg Fielden’s Forty Years of Stock Car Racing, the author quoted legendary NASCAR journalist Benny Phillips, who wrote of that race: “If they gave an Oscar for stock car racing’s most thrilling event, then the Motor State 500 would take the lead by leaps and bounds.”

Cale at Michigan For Wood, the upcoming weekend, even if the finish of Sunday’s race isn’t as dramatic as in 1969 it is a chance for his team to build on the confidence and momentum that comes from the victory at Pocono.

“When we were getting ready to leave, our Dad told us that we broke axles two weeks in a row before we won at Pocono, so we need to go out and win two races in a row,” Wood said. “We don’t want to sound like we’re overconfident after just one win, but the way Ryan drove at the end of that race, passing Kyle Busch and holding off Kevin Harvick, does make us realize that if we can get to the end of the race in pretty good shape and have the right opportunity, we could win again.

“And it would mean a lot to be able to win one for Ford Motor Company at their home track.”

Qualifying for the FireKeepers Casino 400 is set for Friday at 4:15 p.m. Eastern Time, and Sunday’s race is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. with TV coverage on FS1.