FORT WORTH, Texas, April 9, 2017 – After dominating the early stages of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, winning the first two stages, miscues on pit road pushed the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion back to a 12-place finish.
Driver Ryan Blaney had the car to beat in the first two segments, leading 148 laps and taking the green-and-white checkered flag in first place collecting 20 extra championship points and two playoff points in the process.
“If you had asked me yesterday I wouldn’t have said we would win two stages and have one of the fastest cars,” Blaney said after the race. “They made really good changes this morning and that definitely says a lot. I am excited to get to Bristol in a couple weeks and see what we can do.”
After securing the Stage 2 win, Blaney pitted while several cars stayed on the track. That put him in 20th to start Stage 3. He worked his way back into the top 10 by lap 226 and was fifth when he pitted during a lap 300 caution. Blaney slid through the pit box then an air gun broke, which pushed him back to 15th to re-start.
“That last pit stop was pretty discouraging,” Blaney said. “We got back in that third debris caution. I don’t know what it was there at the end of segment two that made everybody have split strategies and we got in the back and couldn’t pass anybody. It was terrible to try to pass people. We made our way up to seventh or eighth and then pitted and I got into our box too long and we were wedged in between two cars. I was over the line by a few inches. That sucked. I put us in that hole. We probably should have stayed out looking back on it but that is easy to do. I think it says a lot about this Motorcraft/Quick Lane team about how good a car we had today.”
He managed to battle back to 12th by the time the race ended.
By virtue of his 20 points for winning both early stages, Blaney moves up a spot to sixth place in the driver standings.
After a week off for Easter, the NASCAR circuit heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500, April 23.