This weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Saturday night race at Richmond Raceway will be high stress for a few teams and drivers looking to get in with a win. But with the Wood Brothers’ No. 21’s win at Pocono Raceway back in June, driver Ryan Blaney and the rest of the team enter the final regular season weekend without that pressure and stress.
There are three remaining spots in play for the 2017 playoffs, a 10-race, championship-deciding playoffs that starts its first round next week at Chicagoland Speedway.
Win and You’re In
Blaney is one of 13 drivers who secured one of 16 playoff berths via a race win during the regular season. A 14th winner in 2017, Joey Logano, had his win encumbered after a post-race inspection failure.
The remaining three spots are in play at Richmond. Those spots will go to either the three who have the most points of the winless drivers, or to another driver who might score a first victory of the season at Richmond.
Without the pressure to make the playoffs, Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford team can utilze the weekend to prepare for their first trip to the playoffs.
“We just need a good, steady performance at Richmond to get everything on a positive note heading into the playoffs,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said.
“Ryan got the outside pole when we were there in April, so we have the potential to have a good finish on Saturday.”
Looking ahead to the 2017 Cup playoffs, Wood likes the line-up of hosting tracks. Five of tracks are intermediate tracks with Talladega Superspeedway and Phoenix Raceway mixed in as well.
“We’ve had fast cars all year long at the mile-and-a-half tracks, so we’re excited to get back to them,” Eddie Wood said.
“Talladega’s been good to us over the years, and Ryan has had success at Phoenix. We’ll just go run the races and see how it works out.”
Wood continues, saying they are just happy to be one of the teams in the playoffs and representing their primary sponsor of Motorcraft/Quick Lane, along with Ford Performance.
Richmond September 2017 Schedule
Qualifying at Richmond is set for 5:45 p.m. on Friday, and the 400-lap, 300-mile race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on NBCSN.