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Young Blaney’s Future Is Sprint Cup, Not Sprint Cars

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, May 9 2014

Ryan Blaney has taken a different career path from that of his father. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Dave Blaney was a short track monster. He was a Silver Crown champion and a World of Outlaws champion. He won the Knoxville Nationals and the Gold Cup at Eldora Speedway in Ohio. He’s a dirt-track owner and recently voted into the Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville.

Now he has a racing son and while the acorn has fallen a long way from the tree, it appears that 20-year-old Ryan Blaney is on the verge of becoming a bit of a monster himself.

This weekend at Kansas Speedway, Ryan will kick off his Sprint Cup Series career if he is able to qualify Friday afternoon for Saturday night’s 5 Hour Energy race. He will drive the No. 12 SKF Ford for Team Penske. His crew chief will be veteran Greg Erwin.

Father Dave will have a pretty good seat for it all – he will be driving the No. 77 Ford in his 469h career Cup start – and will be hoping that his son can do something he was never able to do; win a Cup race.

Could happen soon, many in the garages are saying.

Ryan has shown well in NASCAR’s ladder series. He won twice in 33 starts in the Camping World Truck Series, and he won once in 20 starts in Nationwide.

And now, onto The Show at Kansas.

“You are just are antsy for it to happen and want it to get here,” the young Blaney said. “You want to make your debut and hopefully it goes well. It is definitely something you look forward to. This is where every kid wants to be growing up watching NASCAR and watch his dad race everything. You wait your whole life for this opportunity and you have to make the most of it. I am fortunate that Penske was kind enough to give me this opportunity and hopefully we can make the most of it.”

At Kansas, he will, hopefully, be racing for 400 miles. It will be the longest race of his driving career and that in itself will be a challenge.

“You definitely have to have a different mindset with it being pretty much twice as long as the truck race,” Blaney said. “It is a whole different race. You have to pace yourself a whole different way. I know that I am not used to – in the Truck Series we get one or two pit stops a race and in the Cup Series you can get five or six which gives you more opportunity to work on the car and get better. That is something to get used to. It is a whole different race to try to plan yourself out to the end. This racetrack, when the sun is going down and then ending in the cool of the night is definitely going to change and you have to be prepared for that also.”

While the hopes are big for Saturday night, the goals remain modest.

“You hope to just get experience and run all 400 miles and not do anything foolish and hopefully get a good finish out of it and not make any mistakes,” Blaney said.

While it appears Ryan Blaney’s future is limitless in NASCAR, it also appears that his future in sprint cars is all but non-existent for the foreseeable future.

Not because of lack of interest, but because of circumstances – circumstances involving his father’s career, which had gone from Ohio dirt tracks to Southeastern speedways.

“I would have liked to do it,” he said of following pops into dirt racing. “But by the time I was old enough to start driving cars, we were already living in North Carolina. By the time I got to the age, it was time for asphalt racing. You don’t see a lot of dirt tracks down in North Carolina. That more in the Ohi0/Pennsylvania region.

“It’s definitely something I’d like to do. I did a little bit of it a couple years ago, a hand full of 410 stuff, I played around with that but then (NASAR team owner Roger) Penske kind of put the binders on and said no more of that. Can’t blame him .”

Not with the kind of property that Ryan Blaney appears to be.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, May 9 2014
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  • Anne says:

    He is young, and maybe being over-looked with the hype of other drivers. But I have to say Ryan Blaney and the super hyped other guy personalities need some work. Watching Blaney today and for awhile now, goodness..I would say sadly, right or wrong, the personality of a damp blanket. I am sure he is a great guy (both he the way overhyped favorite son, and this favorite son), but dang.