A late-race fuel gamble by Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins paid off with a strong 12th-place finish today for rookie Ryan Blaney in the Crown Royal 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"Overall, it was a pretty solid day," said Blaney, leaning against his car after the race. "This kind of finish is very encouraging to me and the whole team."
Starting in the unenviable 30th spot in his first Cup race at the Brickyard, Blaney drove steadily to the front all day. He was 21st after 100 miles, 20th at the halfway point and 11th at the 300-mile mark.
The Wood Brothers’ famous No. 21 was 10th after 142 of 160 laps when Bullins made the gutsy call to stay out when a caution flag flew at lap 147, putting Blaney in eighth.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane machine climbed as high as seventh before a rash of late-race yellow flags confirmed Bullins’ decision as wise and ultimately forced a green-white-checker finish during which Blaney crossed Indy’s yard of bricks in 12th.
"On that last re-start it was all about who was going to give you a push and we really didn't get any help,” Blaney said leaning against his car after the race. “It didn't work out for us.
"I thought the car was pretty good for us,” he continued. “Track position was so huge for us today. We finally got it and the car was good then. We had older tires and that hurt us a little bit when we stayed out.
"It was a good call,” Blaney said of his crew chief’s decision to take a chance on fuel. “It was the only way we were going to get a decent finish. That was the right call for sure and he did a good job making it."
Blaney said he was particularly please to be able to finish strong for 8-year-old Maryn Winters, winner of the Race Car Design Contest for JDRF Hosted by Motorcraft & Quick Lane whose design graced the No. 21 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend.
"Maryn and her family were here all weekend,” Blaney said. “She rode with me on the track during intros. It's really cool to be part of this JDRF deal. It's my first year and it's interesting to learn about type 1 diabetes and good for me to learn about all the kids who have it and battle it. It makes you appreciate things more. It was great to have a good finish for them."
Ford Performance PR The next stop for Wood Brothers Racing is the Pure Michigan 400, Aug. 16, at Michigan International Speedway.