Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team appeared headed to a possible top-15 finish in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway but ended up in 25th when he got bumped from behind and spun during the green-white-checker finish.
Early in the race, the 22-year-old rookie Wood Brothers driver moved steadily forward from his 23rd starting position to occupy 15th by lap 69 of 325. He stayed mainly between 13th and 15th throughout the rest of the race, climbing as high as 10th at lap 148. Although he maintained that track position, he did lose a lap on lap 175 and another on lap 289.
“We were going to run 13th to 15th, which would have been an okay day,” Blaney said after climbing out of his classic red and white Fusion. “I didn’t know what happened initially, but I guess the 43 got a big run off the top and I was inside the 14 and got tagged in the back. Unfortunately, that sent me around, which kind of stinks. We were just trying to salvage a decent day out of it and it just stinks to run all those laps and then get wrecked at the end of a race.”
The Wood Brothers’ iconic No. 21 Ford Fusion got one lap back when it stayed on the track during a late-race caution that set up the green-white-checker that ended the race.
“We were just trying to find some balance,” Blaney said. “Sometimes we were better than others, and at the end we weren’t the best. There are some things we can learn to go onto Las Vegas next week and we’re excited to bounce back there.”
NASCAR’s new low-down-force aerodynamics package debuted at Atlanta. Blaney said he enjoyed it.
“It was a blast,” he said. “It was a handful, that’s for sure. If your car wasn’t handling great, it was tough. My car would really fall off after about 20 laps and that’s when we would struggle. We were okay before then, but Vegas is going to be a whole different deal next week. The tires don’t fall off as much, so we’ll see how it is there, but I think it’s a good direction. I felt like we could pass cars a little bit easier with this package and I think it’s the right way to go.”
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team now heads to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway next week, March 6, for the Kobalt 400.