Heading into Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400 at the Dover International Speedway, one of the big stories for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team was the marathon drive planned for young Ryan Blaney.
After rain postponed the Xfinity Series race to Sunday morning, Blaney was poised to run 600 miles, as he was tapped to drive 200 miles in the No. 22 Mustang for Team Penske in addition to 400 more in the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion. Blaney took over the No. 22 in Sunday’s opener because its scheduled driver, Joey Logano, was focusing on the championship battle in the Sprint Cup Series.
Blaney sailed through the 200-lap Xfinity race on Sunday morning, finishing fourth, then after a brief break strapped into the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion for another 400 laps on the Monster Mile.
Blaney fired off from the 20th starting position after qualifying was rained out and the line-up set by points. He had a mediocre first run, but after his first pit stop and some chassis adjustments by his Jeremy Bullins-led crew, Blaney returned to the track with one of the fastest cars in the race.
He drove his way to 12th place by the 100-lap mark and was poised to continue his march forward when his right-front tire blew on lap 105, sending him slamming into the wall.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew, despite the discouraging circumstance, went to work, repaired the No. 21 Fusion and sent Blaney back on the track midway through the race.
He ran a total of 281 laps in the Cup race and gained two spots to 38th, which was mathematically all he could gain after his extended stay in the garage.
In spite of the setback, Blaney was emphasizing the positives as he spoke with reporters while his team repaired his car.
“We were running pretty good before [the blown tire], and I wasn’t really getting tight, I was kind of just riding around,” he said. “We’ll have to look at it and see what happened, but it’s a shame.”
“We got our car pretty good that second run and were driving up through the field pretty good. I would have liked to see what we would have had if we had a couple more chances to work on it.”
He expressed his appreciation for his team and its determination to make his car better at every opportunity.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t run good today, but it’s a testament to our team of not starting very good and getting a lot better in one pit stop,” he said. “So that’s something we can take away.”
Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team return to the track this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the Bank of America 500 is set for Saturday night.