Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team came on strong at the finish of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway to claim a 14th-place finish. It was the team’s 15th finish of 14th or better in this their rookie season.
Blaney started 17th and ran in the top 15 for much of the race before moving forward as the laps wound down.
He was at his best at the very end, when he passed Tony Stewart then held off Denny Hamlin to take 14th. He was within striking distance of passing Kurt Busch when the checkered flag flew.
Team co-owner Len Wood said he was pleased to see the No. 21 Fusion running strong at the finish, and while he was a bit disappointed in the result, he considered that disappointment a product of the raised expectation he and others have placed on his race team.
“You kind of reset your goals as the season goes on,” he said. “Overall, we are very pleased with our performance this year.”
That was true on Sunday at Kansas.
“We had a good car at times,” he said. “We got off in the middle of the race, but we got it back.”
Wood went on to say that track position was a big factor on Sunday. That meant that if Blaney, or another driver, was fast in the high groove it made it difficult to pass other drivers also running that same groove.
Among the factors on the positive side for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, Wood said, was another smooth performance by the over-the-wall members of the team.
“They did a nice job all day, especially on the money stop at the end when they got Ryan back out in 10th place.”
Blaney was the top-finishing rookie in the 400 and the second-highest finishing Ford driver. He remains 20th in the driver points standings, which Wood says puts him on track to finish the season in the top 20, as well as help move the Wood Brothers up one spot to 20th in the owner standings.
“That would be a good run for us in our first full season in several years,” Wood said.
Now the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team heads to Talladega Superspeedway, a type of track where the No. 21 team has had some of its greatest success over the years.
“Daytona and Talladega have always been good tracks for us,” Wood said. “We should have a really good car for Talladega.”