Ryan Blaney moving up NASCAR ladder
Ryan Blaney’s life is literally on the move at all times.
From his move up the ladder of the NASCAR racing pole to the move out of his parents’ house and into his own place, the 20-year-old Blaney is experiencing a wide range of events. Among the most significant are his chase for the Camping World Truck Series championship and his Sprint Cup debut May 10 at Kansas Speedway.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows NASCAR that Blaney is among the legitimate candidates to win the Truck Series crown. He finished sixth in the standings last year in his first full season on the circuit.
It’s no longer a matter of wanting to learn the ropes and improve each week for Blaney, the son of Hartford native and Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney. His goal is to drive the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing’s Cooper Standard Ford to the Truck Series ultimate winner’s circle.
“I would be disappointed if we don’t win it (the points title),” Blaney said. “That was what we hoped for last year but didn’t get it done. The changes we’ve made with the team and the improvement have put us into a position for a championship. I think we have all the parts to go along with it. We just need to perform and not lose our heads and get into many wrecks. Hopefully, we can do all those things.”
The season began on a promising note when Blaney drove the No. 29 to a sixth-place finish at Daytona in the Nextra Energy Resources 250. Two weeks ago he placed fifth at the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
There were some big changes to BKR’s two truck entries, which included moving the No. 19’s crew to the No. 29 car. That meant a new crew chief (Chad Kendrick) for Blaney.
“Last year we struggled a little with the change from Dodge to Ford,” Blaney said. “I know all the guys from the 19 team last year. We’re a lot more prepared than we were last year. I think we’re coming out of the box stronger than we did last year.”
Blaney will continue to build on his experience in the Nationwide Series with 15 races this season. He hasn’t wasted any time making his presence known on the circuit behind the wheel of the No. 22 Penske Racing Discount Tire Ford. He finished fourth at Bristol in the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 and eighth at Texas Speedway in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
The Truck Series has competed just twice this season, and the next race won’t be until early May. With NASCAR officials cutting back on driver appearances at non-sanctioned events because of recent accidents, Blaney needs the Nationwide rides to keep active.
Blaney will take another big step in his career when he enters the highest level of NASCAR racing behind the wheel of the No. 12 Penske Ford at Kansas. The plan is for a second Sprint race at Talladega in the fall.
“I think we’re going to test with the whole team in Nashville in a few weeks,” Blaney said. “We’ll get a good feel for it there. I think it will be really good, and I think we’ll adjust to Cup racing quickly. Both Penske cars have been running really well. I’m really excited to get going and see what we can do at Kansas.”
It’s just a matter of time until Blaney lands a full-time Sprint Cup ride. With two Nationwide Series wins to his credit in a short period of time, it’s natural to assume he’ll eventually drive down Victory Lane in a Sprint car.
“We’re seeing how it plays out right now,” he said of a possible Sprint ride in 2015. “I would like to.”
Blaney still lives close to his parents in North Carolina. He admittedly enjoys living on his own.
“I was always a loner, even at home,” he said. “I always did my own thing. One of the biggest things now is doing my own laundry and getting groceries. I always had my mom to do that for me.”
Blaney doesn’t have much time to spend at home at this time of the year. Whenever NASCAR drops a green flag, he’s usually ready to race.