Ryan Blaney’s roller-coaster first Daytona 500 came to an end when the engine of his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion let go late in the race after battling his way back from early-race contact with the Daytona International Speedway wall.
Starting 12th, Blaney raced his way to 9th position at the 40-lap mark before being nudged into the turn 4 wall by Tony Stewart. Enough damage ensued to cause the Wood Brothers Racing iconic No. 21 to make an extended pit stop and slip to 40th place.
“The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team did a good job fixing it up after the 14 got into us,” Blaney said after climbing out of his car. “It’s just an unfortunate deal. I thought we were close enough to the front where that wouldn’t happen. He changed lanes and it got tight. It was tight in (turn) 4 all day.
“I thought we were going to be OK,” Blaney continued. “I couldn’t see how bad it was hurt. They said it was OK. It was a little tight, effecting aero and stuff, but after they worked on it, it got better. I thought we were going to race good up there and we were until the engine blew up.”
Solid pit work and driving kept the 21 on the lead lap and the car advanced to 32nd place after 400 miles. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins opted not to pit during a caution with 39 laps to go and that put the 21 into 12th place when the green flag flew.
“I definitely thought it was the right call to get track position,” Blaney said of the call to stay out. “It seemed like our car handled better when we had track position when you can get a little more air on the nose. It was working. That’s all you can ask for.”
Blaney drove his way to 8th position after 170 circuits and was running 13th when the engine let go, which he said happened suddenly.
“Sometimes they’ll vibrate bad or lose a bunch of power a couple of laps before they go, but this one just went,” said Blaney who ended up in 39th place.
Crew chief Bullins summed up the performance of his new team in its first competitive test.
“All in all, I can’t complain,” Bullins said. “We had a decent qualifying effort and a great effort in the 150s to get in the race. We had a good starting spot. We were cruising there at the beginning and some guys checked up, we got in the wall and got damage. We recovered from that nicely and were in position again in the Top 15 were we started and lost an engine. Fortunately with Roush Yates power that doesn’t happen very often so we’ll take the effort and go to Vegas.”
Ford Performance PR