Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team won’t be running for a championship this weekend at the Chicagoland Speedway, but they will be in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 and will be racing just as hard as they would have if they’d made the cut for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
That’s a major improvement over last year when Blaney and his then-part-time team showed up at Chicago with a fast Ford Fusion but did not get to race it.
Despite being ninth quickest in practice, Blaney missed the race when qualifying was cancelled because of weather and he didn’t have a provisional starting spot.
This year, under a new rule, the team will be in the field even if qualifying is rained out due to its position in the points standings.
“Mother Nature got the best of us last year in Chicago, with rain canceling qualifying before we could get an opportunity to put our Fusion in the show,” Buillins said. “That won’t happen this year as due to the new rules system we’d be locked in on points if rain canceled qualifying.”
“We certainly felt like we had a fast car last year, and this year should be no different. We had a very good test there a few weeks back, and we feel really prepared to go racing.”
Bullins also said he, Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are planning to put forth a championship-level effort even though they didn’t make the 10-race, championship-deciding Chase, which kicks off this weekend and ends with the Ford Championship Weekend at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
”Obviously a few races over the summer months knocked us out of Chase contention, and that’s not where we wanted to be,” Bullins said. “But as I take a big-picture, long-term view I’m excited about the direction of our team.”
“If you look most recently at Bristol and Michigan we had cars that ran in the top five a lot of the day.”
“Darlington was a championship-type recovery coming from two laps down and damage repair for a lead-lap finish. We can’t win a championship but we can certainly take the last 10 races as an opportunity to grow as a team and work toward being a contender for years to come.”
He said it will take that kind of effort to find success in the final 10 races.
“You know the Chase teams will bring their best work the rest of the year, and we will push ourselves to be competitive against their best,” he said.
Qualifying for Sunday’s 400-miler is set for Friday afternoon at 6:45 and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 2:30 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.