Last weekend at the Chicagoland Speedway, Ryan Blaney, his crew chief Jeremy Bullins and the entire Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew showed the NASCAR world that they’re capable of being legitimate contenders for race victories.
This weekend they’re looking to back that up with another strong run at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
At the end of Sunday’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 in Chicago, Bullins made the call to leave Blaney on the track on older tires, a decision that put him out front for an Overtime run to the checkered flag. Blaney nailed the restart, despite his worn tires, and led for a time before the newer tires of his competitors prevailed and he finished fourth.
“Last week’s finish at Chicago was a lot of fun for our whole group,” Bullins said. “We know as a team that to be a championship-contending team we need to win races.”
“To be able to get to the top-10, overcoming several issues during the race, and having a shot to win at the end was all you can ask for.”
Bullins insists that his decision not to pit at the end wasn’t as gutsy as it might have seemed at the time. “I had confidence in Ryan to get a good restart and give us a shot for the win,” he said. “Points aren’t too much of a concern for us right now, but getting to Victory Lane is worth a gamble every now and then.”
Bullins said the outcome, even though it wasn’t a victory, is a sign of better things to come for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
“If we can string together weekends like that, we all have a lot to look forward to,” he said.
With the momentum of a strong run behind them, Blaney and Bullins now head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which has become one of their better tracks, with the No. 21 Ford Fusion showing good speed in the three races the two have run there together.
“The first thing I’m excited about looking ahead to Loudon is the cool weather in the forecast!” Bullins said. “It’s been a hot summer, so I’m sure the guys will be up for a break in the temperatures too.”
In the first New Hampshire race of the season, on July 17, Blaney and Bullins were able to overcome a pit-road speeding penalty that dropped them to 24th one lap down and finish 11th.
“That was not an easy task as short as the race is there,” Bullins said, adding that such a comeback wouldn’t have been possible without a fast Ford Fusion. “We’ve had good speed both times we’ve raced there, and when you combine that with our experience, we get excited to have opportunities to improve on our most recent performances.”
Qualifying at New Hampshire is set for 4:45 p.m. on Friday, and the 300-lap main event is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.