Topping off his fuel with an extra pit stop during the race’s second-to-last caution period allowed Ryan Blaney to drive the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion to a strong 10th place finish in the rain-delayed Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Blaney had the Wood Brothers’ Ford in 12th place when the ninth yellow flag of the race flew. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins had his rookie driver come back to pit road to add some extra fuel.
“We were really close to being able to make it (on fuel),” Bullins said explaining his strategy. “We felt like we were far enough back to take a gamble and top off. We gave up a few spots to do that but we were able to get back where we needed to be at the end.”
The No. 21 slipped back to 19th but moved steadily forward through the field before getting to 10th with six laps to go.
“There were a lot of guys who were saving at the end and we passed a few of them,” Bullins continued. “We just ran out of time to get to the rest of them.”
The top-10 finish in Blaney’s first Cup ride at the “Tricky Triangle” was his fifth of the 2016 season and the seventh time he took the checkered flag in the top 15.
“You come out of here with a top-10 in your first trip here with a Cup car and that’s not bad,” Bullins said summarizing the team’s effort. “We had a couple of things we’d do differently looking back, but all in all we’ll take it and feel like we’ll be stronger when we come back in the fall.”
At the halfway point to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Blaney remains 15th in the drivers’ points standings as he and the Wood Brothers Racing Team head to Michigan International Speedway for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400.