DEARBORN, Mich., – Last year at the Brickyard, Ryan Blaney drove the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion from a starting position toward the back of the field (30th) all the way to 12th by the time the checkered flag flew.
This year, in his second NASCAR Sprint Cup run at Indianapolis, he’s looking to move even farther up the scoring pylon by the end of the Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Veteran Coalition 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday at 3 p.m.
“I’m excited to race at Indy again after a strong run last year,” Blaney said.
The young driver’s other experience at the fabled Indiana oval came in last year’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race when he started 11th and was leading the race when Kyle Busch took advantage of a last-lap, turn-four Blaney misstep to steal the win.
This will be the 22nd start for the venerable Wood Brothers Racing Team at the Brickyard. The team’s best finishes were a pair of 10ths in NASCAR’s first two visits to Indy with Morgan Shepherd behind the wheel.
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins explained what it takes to be successful at the Brickyard.
“You need all systems to be working well,” Bullins said. “Track position will be huge as passing is typically challenging. You can pit without getting lapped (if you're within a certain window of the leaders) which creates some road course strategies as well, pitting as soon as soon as you can make it to the end on fuel, even under green.”
The historic No. 21 Ford will have a different look at Indianapolis. It will carry the blue and white Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers livery for the only time in 2016. The purpose is to promote Quick Lane’s new “Trading One Uniform for Another” scholarship program for veterans.
“Having Quick Lane as our primary sponsor and what they are doing for military personnel is extremely special and I’m fortunate to be part of it,” Blaney said.
To help veterans acquire the skills they need to become automotive technicians, Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers will award $10,000 scholarships to five veterans. The funds are used to pay for tuition, books and fees at any community college, university, trade or vocational school with an accredited program in automotive mechanics in the United States.
Everyone is invited to nominate veterans for these scholarships by going to www.QLtradingone.com and writing a short essay on why their nominee is a deserving recipient. Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers will select 10 finalists from all qualified nominees.
In November, which is Military Appreciation Month, Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers will reveal the finalists at www.QLtradingone.com and invite everyone to vote for a finalist to receive a scholarship. Quick Lane will announce the five scholarship recipients at this year’s Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit on Dec. 26.