Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team were among a number of their peers at Auto Club Speedway on Friday that had to hustle to get out of the NASCAR inspection line in time to qualify for Sunday’s Auto Club 400. In fact, five drivers never got on the track during qualifying.
Blaney did, with a few minutes to spare, and posted the 21st-fastest time in the first of three qualifying rounds. His speed of 183.950 miles per hour was fast enough to propel him to the second round. There, he was 19th fastest, at 183.641mph, but that wasn’t fast enough to advance to the final round, so Blaney will line up 19th on Sunday.
He said in his post-qualifying comments that the scramble to get through inspection didn’t hamper him once he got on the track.
“No. I just think we missed it,” he said. “We were a little too free in practice, and we probably over-adjusted a little bit and got on the tight side.
“It’s something to learn from for the next time we come here.”
Blaney felt better about his speed in Friday’s opening practice session, where the No. 21 Motorcraft /Quick Lane Fusion was atop the speed charts for a time before ending the session seventh fastest with a best lap of 187.471 mph. He and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team spent much of that practice round preparing for race conditions.
“I think in race trim we're going in a good direction, so we'll see how that goes,” he said.
After two practice sessions on Saturday, the Auto Club 400 is set to get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday (3:30 Eastern Time) with TV coverage on FOX.