For a driver who had never before driven a Sprint Cup car at Texas Motor Speedway, Ryan Blaney proved to be a quick study.
He showed significant improvement from the first practice session to the second on Friday, then qualified the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion 13th for Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500.
Blaney barely missed making it to the final round of knock-out qualifying as his speed of 192.273 miles per hour was just a tad shy of the 192.362 mph that Tony Stewart turned to edge him for the last transfer spot to the final round.
“I really wanted to be in the last round,” Blaney said. “I lost a big chunk of time the first run in that second round off of [turn] two, and that kind of solidified our fate.”
“It was so hard to go back out for a second time in the same session and run faster because you don’t have enough time for the tires to cool off like you need. We almost still did it, but that just proves the great work these guys did to it and just fortunate to be with such a great team.”
For Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team it’s a positive sign to be disappointed at missing the final qualifying round. His 13th starting spot is something to be celebrated, especially for a part-time team that has no provisional starting spot to rely on and has to qualify for races on speed.
“We’re starting a lot better than what we did at Vegas, so I’m a lot happier about that,” Blaney said. “We don’t have as many cars in front of us, so I think we’re about 50 percent better than where we were in Vegas.”
For team co-owner Eddie Wood and the rest of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, it was an enjoyable day in the Lone Star state as Blaney and his crew chief Jeremy Bullins made steady gains throughout the day. They were 24th fastest with a top speed of 186.703 mph in the opening session then jumped to sixth fastest in Happy Hour with the top speed increasing to 188.910 mph.
“We’re really looking forward to the race,” Wood said. “I like night racing anyway.”
Blaney also is ready to run 500 miles at Texas.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I love Texas Motor Speedway, and I think we have a good race car also.”
Wood Brothers Racing PR