Ryan Blaney continues to impress behind the wheel of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.
Blaney made two passes in the final two laps of Sunday’s Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway to finish in the top 10 for the second consecutive week and move up to 12th in points.
Given that Blaney is a rookie and given that this is the first time since 2008 that the Wood Brothers have run a full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, it’s an excellent start to the 2016 season for NASCAR’s oldest team.
"That wasn’t bad," said Blaney. "We fought really hard all day. We got a lot better throughout the day. We didn’t start out that great and we just got better as we went along."
Blaney struggled with handling issues in the early stages of the race, although he stayed in the top 20 all afternoon. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins was able to make some necessary adjustments that allowed the No. 21 Ford to pick up speed as the race went on.
When a caution came out on Lap 308, Bullins called an audible, changing just two tires instead of the planned four, allowing Blaney to rejoin the race in 12th place. And with two passes in the last two laps, Blaney secured his top-10 finish.
"The guys did a great job with two tires at the end and I thought about staying out but we wouldn’t have been on the first two rows so we had to come in to get two," said Blaney.
And the strategy worked.
"It was a good day and a good job by everybody on this Motorcraft Quick Lane team and a top-10 car is all I could ask for," said Blaney.