Ryan Blaney and his No. 21 Virginia Tech Ford Fusion led the way for Ford Motor Company in Friday’s Sprint Cup qualifying session at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Blaney was in the top five in all three rounds of knock-out qualifying and will start fourth in Saturday’s Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s his best qualifying effort of the season, and his best since a third-place start at Talladega Superspeedway in May, 2015.
Overall, Blaney and his team had one of their most successful Fridays of the season. He was seventh fastest in the first practice, with a best lap of 128.451 miles per hour. He stepped it up to fourth in Happy Hour, with a best lap at 129.334 mph.
In qualifying, he was fifth in the opening round with a lap at 130.123 mph, then fourth in Round Two with a speed of 129.842 mph before running a lap at 130.637 mph to secure the fourth starting position.
“I thought we were fast unloading and tweaked on it from there,” Blaney said. “We found some things that worked and found some things that didn’t work, and it was just an overall fairly good day for us.
“It’s nice to get a good qualifying spot. I don’t know how many times I would have killed to start on top, and now I’m going to start on top, so that’s just the way it goes.”
Blaney also said he believes his car will be fast in Saturday night’s race.
“I don’t think our [qualifying] setup is the only good part of our car,” he said. “I think our race runs were pretty good, and it’s just a matter of putting 500 laps together and seeing where it ends up.”
Blaney was among those at the track admiring the maroon Virginia Tech colors on the No. 21 Ford Fusion.
“I think our car actually looks really, really good,” he said.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he was happy that the rains stayed away so qualifying could be held and proud of the way his team represented Virginia Tech, which is sponsoring the No. 21 Fusion at Bristol this weekend and at Martinsville Speedway this fall.
“I’m really proud of Ryan and the team,” Wood said. “And we’re honored to have Virginia Tech on the car and so glad to have a good qualifying effort for them.”
Wood agreed with Blaney that the Virginia Tech paint scheme has been a winner at Bristol.
“There’s been a lot of interest in the car, from little kids to youth to adults. Everybody’s really excited.”
Saturday night’s 500 lapper is set to get the green flag just after 8 p.m. with TV coverage on NBCSN.