Ryan Blaney Hopes to Keep Up with the Race Track

Ryan Blaney, the driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, walks through the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 23, 2017, in Loudon, New Hampshire. Photo – Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Playoff driver Ryan Blaney is looking for a single-digit finish this weekend, and he’s off to an excellent start.

In four previous races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Blaney has started a remarkably consistent 16th, 14th, 16th, and 15th. His finishes are 23rd, 11th, 12th and 19th.

In this year’s July race, Blaney ran better than 19th throughout most of the afternoon, but as the traction compound applied to the asphalt began to wear off, the handling of his car deteriorated. That was an object lesson for the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing team.

“The biggest thing I felt like we struggled with in the first race this year was when the grip strip went away, we didn’t have our car ready for when it finally faded away,” Blaney said after Saturday’s first practice at the Magic Mile.

“It’s going to fade away like the first race, and it’s just a matter of the second half of the race or the last 100 (laps) – whenever it does fade – is making sure your car is handling well so you don’t have to run in it, and you can migrate back to the normal lane.”

Blaney qualified fourth on Friday, and in Saturday morning’s first practice session he was second fastest behind Kyle Larson. In final practice, under conditions that will most closely resemble those for Sunday’s race, he was sixth on the speed chart behind series leader Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, polesitter Kyle Busch, non-Playoff driver Daniel Suarez and Larson.

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