FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: RYAN BLANEY MEDIA Q&A FROM MARTINSVILLE TEST

Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, participated in a test session today at Martinsville Speedway.  He came into the infield media center during the lunch break and spoke about his Playoff position.

RYAN BLANEY – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion – WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO GAIN IN THE TEST TODAY?  “Just knowledge.  That’s the biggest thing any team tries to gain here.  I’m glad we can have an open test.  They’re very nice to have.  We can come and try things we wouldn’t typically try each weekend just because we have a lot more time here to do these long changes and have as many sets of tires as we need, so that part is nice.  Just try to learn off of the spring race.  I thought we were pretty decent, actually, in the first race here.  We got in some trouble towards the three-quarter mark of the race.  This hasn’t been my best track, but I feel I’ve gotten a little bit better here as we’ve raced here, but I’m just learning things and trying to build a notebook.  I think that’s what it’s all about.”

THE WOOD BROTHERS HAVE 99 WINS.  WHAT WOULD WIN 100 MEAN HERE AT MARTINSVILLE?  “It would be great.  I think any win at any race track we won at to get number 100 would be special, but to do it here, like you said, being a home track for both of us – the Wood Brothers and myself – would be very neat.  It would be a huge deal, but I think anywhere we do it would be acceptable and I think they’ll tell you the same thing.  That would be great to do.  If we can’t get it done at Talladega or Kansas, it would be awesome to come here and make it happen.  It’s really cool to see the fan support for the Wood Brothers here at this race track and it’s only about 25 minutes down the road to Stuart (VA), where they originated, so that would be a big deal.”

HOW IMPORTANT ARE STAGE POINTS NOW?  “It is tight and Chase said stage points are huge and they’ve done a good job.  A lot of teams have done a good job of getting massive stage points and we didn’t.  I think we got two at Charlotte because we were so bad in the beginning of the race and we only got partially to where we needed to be by the second stage and it just hurts you.  It really hurts you when you don’t get any of those points, so I think a lot of teams are gonna go out there and be pretty aggressive at Talladega, trying to get some stage points.  I know we’re gonna have to be that way for sure, be aggressive because you can take a big swing in the points if you can do well or if you do bad at them.  We’ve seen that a lot, so they’re very important, but it is kind of disheartening.  Years before when you didn’t have stage points you’d start off the race bad and you’d get better and you would be pretty happy with an eighth-place finish, but now you run 25th in the first stage and ninth in the second stage and then finish eighth you’re like, ‘Wow, we really got hurt.’  You have to start off these races so good to try to run up there and collect those points.  We’ve done that.  We know how to do it, it’s just a matter of trying to get back to where we need to be.  We’re not really where we need to be right now from a speed standpoint, but hopefully these next two tracks can pick us back up.  Talladega is always a wash, but Kansas we had a really good run at earlier this year and hopefully we can go in there and see what we can do.”

IS THERE AN ADJUSTMENT GOING FROM CHARLOTTE TO HERE AT MARTINSVILLE AND THEN TALLADEGA?  “It’s definitely different.  We do a good amount of testing and I like to say that we can kind of change up track to track, but it is a lot different going from a big mile-and-a-half like Charlotte to here.  It takes you a few laps to kind of get back in the rhythm and try to figure out how to drive this place the best that you can, and then going to Talladega from here is nothing, you just hold it wide-open.  That’s not as difficult, but it does take a handful of laps to kind of get going here and try to get your mind back to where you need to be braking-wise and things like that.  It’s really technical here compared to Charlotte.  That is a little bit tough, but, like I said, we’ve got two days to try to get our minds back to where we have to be and hopefully remember that for a few weeks down the road.”

THE FORDS HAVE BEEN STRONG ON THE RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACKS.  “The Fords have been really fast this year at the speedways.  They’ve won every single one of them this year, so that’s pretty encouraging to know.  We’ve always had a great speedway program – Ford in general – so I think that’s a huge testament to not only the teams at getting the cars ready, but that’s a huge statement for Roush Yates.  They’ve done a great job of getting the motors to where we need to be on the speedways, so that’s always nice to know.  Comparing the 500 to both of the others, it’s just kind of circumstance.  We just got caught up in wrecks running pretty good and what do you do?  I don’t know what we could have done different in any of those.  We got turned from behind in one and I just drove into the other one, so hopefully that doesn’t happen this weekend.  You just try the best you can to try to position yourself to where you don’t have to try to avoid anything, but you never know what can happen.  I don’t really think about even the second-place run at Daytona.  I don’t really even think about that one because it’s a whole different game.  You can never really go in there with a game plan.  You do the best you can, but everything changes when the green flag drops.”

IS TALLADEGA THE SAME SORT OF DESPERATION THIS YEAR VERSUS LAST BEING THE SECOND RACE OF THE ROUND AS OPPOSED TO THE LAST?  “I think that’s a little bit too much hype for this race.  Maybe last year or years before that when it was the last race in the cutoff round you could maybe say that, but now I think while it’s tough to do good it’s almost kind of different with who you’re asking.  If you’re the 42 or the 24 or something it’s almost survival and like for us we have to make up ground, so I wouldn’t say desperation, but it’s really important to go and try to have a good run and try to pick up some points.  I think that varies, but I wouldn’t say desperation is a good word to use.”

CAN YOU BREAKDOWN THE STAR WARS TRAILER THAT DEBUTED LAST NIGHT?  “I watched it like four times on the ride up here.  It was really good.  I don’t watch a lot of football and they made me turn on Monday Night Football last night and watch it, and it was really neat.  I thought they did a really good job with it and I’m excited to watch it when it comes out.  I won’t be in the country when it comes out, so I don’t know what I’m gonna do.  I’m gonna have to turn my phone off to make sure no one spoils it for me, but I think they did a really good job with it.  The trailer is almost hyping it up to be the best one yet.  I thought they did a good job, so we’ll see what happens.  I’m excited.  I’m pumped up to see what they figure out and kind of where everyone lands as far as the family tree deal.  That would be kind of neat.”

HOW DIFFERENT IS THE AGGRESSIVENESS AT TALLADEGA AND MARTINSVILLE?  “It’s two different types of aggressiveness I think.  Talladega, you don’t really ever move anybody out of the way.  I’d say moving people out of the way here is pretty aggressive and there you don’t really do that.  You might put yourself in positions that you normally wouldn’t whether it’s taking somebody four-wide and it’s not really a big gap or a hole to fit into, so that’s being really aggressive on a plate track like that, where here it’s just diving off in there and moving the guy.  That’s a lot different from track to track, but you’re gonna see both of them I think this weekend and then when we come back here in a couple of weeks.  You’ll see both types of that aggressiveness, but it is two separate parts for sure.”

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