Saturday, Aug 13

Mid-race wreck Drops Blaney To 35th At Kentucky

For the first 87 laps of Saturday night’s 400-mile Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway - and for the last 60 circuits – Ryan Blaney’s  No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion was one of the fastest cars on the track.

In between there was a crash, and a Herculean effort by the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew to get Blaney back on the track, where he finished 35th, picking up two valuable points awarded for the two positions he gained after the wreck.
 
For the first quarter of the race, Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew appeared to be mastering the reconfigured Kentucky track as well as the lower downforce aerodynamic package NASCAR mandated for the race.

He started 15th after rain caused the line-up to be set by owner points, and quickly moved to seventh place.

Soon, he was running in the top five and was running there just after a restart when he was involved in a crash that spoiled his run.
 
“That restart was pretty hectic from the beginning with the 78 [of Martin Truex Jr.] getting loose, and it kind of put everybody in a bad spot,” Blaney said. “It wound up with us being in the middle of three-wide into [Turn] Three.  
 
“It’s so hard to get into that corner all night with a car close to behind you and outside of you, and no one lifting either, and it’s just an unfortunate spot we got put in.”

Also collected in the crash was Blaney’s fellow rookie driver Chase Elliott, in the No. 24 Chevrolet.

“I hate to see two really good cars torn up,” Blaney said. “We were both very fast, and it’s just a really unfortunate deal.”

The rear end of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion was severely damaged in the crash, but the crew went to work, jacked up the bent frame, attached new sheet metal and sent Blaney back onto the track, where he was almost as fast as before.

The work done in the garage, plus the speed of the car, had team co-owner Eddie Wood leaving Kentucky Speedway with a smile on his face despite the disappointing finishing position.

“The crew did a really good job,” Wood said. “The car was damaged all the way up to the rear window, but they got the frame bent back up, put it back together and when Ryan was by himself he could run laps as quick as the leader.”

Even with the points gained after the crash, Blaney dropped to 19th in the driver standings, 24 points out of a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Ahead of him on the track, fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski scored his second-straight victory, stretching his final tank of fuel to the finish line.

 “Congratulations to Brad and Team Penske for the win,” Wood said. “It’s never a bad night when there’s a Ford in Victory Lane.”
 
Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team get back to work this week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

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