Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team continued their strong start to the 2017 season with a trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway that saw them fast in practice, qualifying and the race. And they head to Phoenix International Raceway sixth in the points standings after a seventh-place finish in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas that netted them 43 points, including 13 earned by finishing in the top 10 in the first two stages of Sunday’s race.
Blaney’s finish, along with that of his Ford teammates Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer, gave Ford four of the top-10 finishers in Sunday’s race.
The finish also gives Blaney two finishes of seventh or better in the three races run so far this season, the other being a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500.
On Sunday, Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team had to overcome several obstacles on the way to his 13th top-10 finish - and his eighth on an intermediate track - since joining the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
Early in the race, he ran in the top five after starting third but had to make an unscheduled pit stop. That extra stop also meant that the team had to use one of its allotted eight sets of tires that it had planned for use later in the race. Then, on the final restart, Blaney got bogged down by the slow start of a driver in front of him.
“I thought we are a little bit better than that,” Blaney said in his post-race comments. “We had to come in early in the race and that put us behind.”
Despite the extra stop, Blaney motored his way back into the lead pack and was poised to race for a top-five finish when the green flag flew for the final run to the checkered flag.
“Our car was good enough and once we got back inside the top 10 I felt that we had a shot at fourth or fifth, but that last restart didn’t go our way,” Blaney said. “Good car. Good effort overall. I can’t thank the Wood Brothers enough.”
Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team now head to Phoenix Raceway for the second of three races in NASCAR’s western swing with high hopes of building on their performance in the first three races of this season.
In two starts at Phoenix last year, Blaney had finishes of 10th and eighth.