Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers No. 21 turned in another strong playoff performance in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing sixth and scoring a total of 42 points.
Sunday’s race was the fifth top-10 finish in the eight playoff races to date for Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team. And it was their second-best points performance in the playoff, just behind the 44 points scored at Kansas Speedway.
With three races to go, the Texas race needed a slightly different strategy, focusing on stage points. Blaney scored a total of 11 stage points due to finishes of eighth and third in the first two stages.
After qualifying eighth, Blaney raced in the top 10 for almost the entire 500-mile Texas Motor Speedway race, being in the top five for much of that time. The No. 21 pit crew was on point all afternoon. Blaney showed some skill himself behind the wheel, including saving the No. 21 Ford from being damageed during a near spin just after the end of the second stage.
“We didn’t start off very good, and we got really good towards the middle and had one run where I was super loose towards the end,” Blaney said.
“I gave up like five spots. I got real loose and that was unfortunate, but we got our car a little bit better at the end.
“We restarted eighth and ran sixth. Thanks to the effort by the Wood Brothers group, and hopefully we’ll have a good Phoenix.”
Despite finishes of sixth and eighth in the first two races of the Round of Eight, Blaney and the No. 21 team find themselves in a must-win situation heading into next week’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
With Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr., and Kevin Harvick already assured of being among the four who will race for the title on Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speeedway, only one spot is available to the other five drivers, which includes Blaney.
Blaney enters Phoenix sixth in the standings, 22 points behind the cut-off for advancement to Homestead.
“Obviously, we need to be really aggressive,” said the No. 21 Wood Brothers driver.
“We need to go try and win the race. That’s really the only thing we can do,” Blaney said.
“It’s going to be hard to point your way in because everyone is running pretty good. We’ll just try to win Phoenix and do the best we can.”