Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 PPG Ford Fusion team finally got a qualifying day with no rain, and they turned that into a 16th place starting position for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
After having a fast car at Chicagoland Speedway two weeks ago but not able to race it due to a rained-out qualifying session, Blaney and his Wood Brothers team were rewarded for their fast car at Charlotte on Thursday.
Blaney was eighth-fastest in the opening Sprint Cup practice session with a best lap of 192.048 miles per hour. He backed that up with a seventh-place effort in the first of three rounds of knock-out qualifying. But it took a second try to do that, and that negatively affected his tires when it came to round two. As a result, Blaney wound up 16th overall in qualifying with an official lap at 191.056 mph.
Still, the rookie driver and his PPG team were looking at the positives of being able to take the green flag for the 500 rather than regretting the lost opportunity to compete for the pole.
“After Chicago it’s at least good to know we’ll be driving on race day,” Blaney said. “It wasn’t what we were hoping for because we had a really good car in practice.”
He said the second qualifying run in the first session hampered him in the second round due to the added time on his tires, which generally lose a bit of speed with each lap that’s run.
“We had an extra lap on the tires and that didn’t really help,” he said. “We just didn’t get enough there at the end to try to get in the top 12, but it’s just going to be nice to be racing here Saturday night and be part of the show.”
The Bank of America 500 is set to get the green flag just after 7 p.m. Saturday night with TV coverage on NBC.
Wood Brothers Racing PR