Thanks to a win in June at Pocono Raceway, Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team head to the regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway this weekend without the pressure of trying to secure a berth in the 10-race, championship-deciding playoffs.
Blaney is among the 13 drivers who secured one of 16 playoff berths via a race win during the regular season. The remaining three spots are in play at Richmond, with those going to either the three who have the most points of the winless driver or another driver who might score his or her first victory of the season at Richmond.
Without the pressure to make the playoffs, Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team can use the weekend to prepare for their first trip to the playoffs.
“We just need a good, steady performance at Richmond to get everything on a positive note heading into the playoffs,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “Ryan got the outside pole when we were there in April, so we have the potential to have a good finish on Saturday.”
Looking ahead to the playoffs, Wood likes the line-up of hosting tracks, as five of them are intermediate tracks with Talladega Superspeedway and Phoenix Raceway in there as well.
“We’ve had fast cars all year long at the mile-and-a-half tracks, so we’re excited to get back to them,” he said. “Talladega’s been good to us over the years, and Ryan has had success at Phoenix. We’ll just go run the races and see how it works out.
“We’re just happy to be one of the teams in the playoffs and happy to have a chance to represent Motorcraft/Quick Lane and Ford Performance in these upcoming races.”
Qualifying at Richmond is set for 5:45 p.m. on Friday, and the 400-lap, 300-mile race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. with TV coverage on NBCSN.