- Ryan Blaney expects to be successful when he gets behind the wheel of the iconic No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion for Wood Brothers Racing starting at the 2015 Daytona 500 in February.
- “I honestly think we’ll contend for wins,” Blaney said. “I think we’ll be in the hunt at most of them. If we can run 100 percent of the laps, not wreck out of any of them or have any issues, I know we’ll be racking up some really good finishes. You’ll definitely see us up front and contending for wins.”
DEARBORN, Mich. – Ryan Blaney expects to be successful when he gets behind the wheel of the iconic No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion for Wood Brothers Racing starting at the 2015 Daytona 500 in February.
Why not? He’s been a winner in every other racing series in which he’s ever competed, including being part of Team Penske’s last two Nationwide (now XFINITY) Series Owner’s Championships.
“I hope so,” Blaney said when asked if he thinks his past success will carry over into his first regular Sprint Cup ride. “In my first Cup start for Team Penske at Kansas last year, I was worried about not wrecking and I wasn’t very aggressive. I look back and I regret that. I’m not going to be too conservative this year.”
That doesn’t mean he plans to be too aggressive in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 either. Blaney said he understands the appropriate balance between aggressive racing and driving smart races. “That’s what the Cup races are all about,” he said with a wisdom that belies his 20 years and reflects more than a decade of competitive driving experience. “The races are so long you have to know when to push the car and when to conserve. I think I’ll continue to develop that as I run more 500-mile and 600-mile races. The approach is to go out and do the best you can and run all the laps, get as much experience as you can. If you do that you’re going to run well, too.”
Blaney, son of Sprint Cup veteran Dave Blaney, has run well since he started racing quarter midgets at age 8, winning his first race at age 9. He has competed in and been successful in Bandolero cars, Legend cars, late model stock cars and the ARCA Racing Series before debuting in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West. In 2012, Blaney drove six races (recording two top 10s) in the Nationwide series before finishing the year with Team Penske, recording five top-10 finishes (including 2nd at Texas Motor Speedway) in seven starts. Also in September of that year, he won his first Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway and was the youngest winner in the series at the time at 18 years, 8 months and 15 days.
In the last two Nationwide campaigns for Team Penske, he posted a win in 2013, and in 2014 a win, 10 Top 5s, 13 Top 10s and 207 laps led in 14 starts in the No. 12 Ford Mustang. Driving for Brad Keselowski Racing in the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Blaney finished No. 2 in the championship driving the No. 29 Ford F-150. He posted a win, 12 Top 5s and 17 Top 10s in 22 CWTS starts.
En route to last season’s Nationwide owner’s title, Blaney learned important lessons in patience, which will benefit him and his Motorcraft/Quick Lane teammates in 2015.
“We had a couple races last season in the Nationwide car where we struggled a little bit in practice,” Blaney recalls. “Chicago was a really good example of that. We weren’t very good in practice and I didn’t think we would be that good for the race. My crew chief and I talked about it throughout the race and he made some great changes and we had a shot to win until we got a little bit of damage at the end.
“That’s what the driver and crew chief have to do if you’re going to be successful,” he continued. “If the weekend starts off bad you have to keep working on it. I’m getting better and better at telling him what I need. You get better at that with time.”
All of this caught the attention of Eddie and Len Wood of Wood Brothers Racing who pursued Blaney’s services once Trevor Bayne announced that he would drive the No. 6 full time in the Sprint Cup Series for Roush-Fenway Racing in 2015.
Blaney recognizes that he’s following in the footsteps of the many great Wood Brothers drivers of the past, including Curtis Turner, Cale Yarborough, A.J. Foyt, David Pearson, Bill Elliott and Dale Jarrett just to name a few.
“Just knowing the history of that car,” Blaney said. “It’s been special for me to get to know everyone over there and hear their stories. Being able to drive such an iconic race car is special. I came from a racing family so the family and the heritage of that team is pretty neat. It relates to my family, too. It’s also great getting to know everyone from Motorcraft and knowing the commitment they put into the team.”
Blaney got a preview of working with the Wood Brothers last August in Michigan. After it was announced that he would replace Bayne, he subbed for him in practice and qualifying while Bayne was competing in the Nationwide Series at Mid-Ohio.
“It was really cool to be able to work with those guys,” Blaney recalled. “Running at Michigan in Ford’s back yard, that was really cool to be a part of. It was great to have that experience at Michigan. That will give us just that much more experience when we go back there this season.”
Blaney is reluctant to predict how he’ll do in his first year of regular Cup competition and equally reluctant to set goals for himself and the team going into the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. He is, however, confident in his abilities and that of his new team.
“It’s hard to set expectations and goals,” he stated. “You just want to go out and do the best you can. I honestly think we’ll contend for wins. I think we’ll be in the hunt at most of them. If we can run 100 percent of the laps, not wreck out of any of them or have any issues, I know we’ll be racking up some really good finishes. You’ll definitely see us up front and contending for wins.”
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Quick Lane® provides automotive quick services for all makes and models. Quick Lane’s nationwide network of more than 700 facilities, each providing the convenience of an aftermarket company (no appointment necessary, service while you wait, evening and weekend hours, competitive prices) with the confidence of a major automotive manufacturer (quality parts, factory-trained, technicians). Quick Lane® is a registered trademark of Ford Motor Company. For more information, visit www.quicklane.com
Wood Brothers Racing
Wood Brothers Racing was formed in 1950 in Stuart, Va., by Hall of Famer Glen Wood. Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team and one of the winningest teams in NASCAR history. Since its founding, the team won 98 races (including at least one race in every decade for the last seven decades) and 117 poles in NASCAR’s top-tier series. Fielding only Ford products for its entire history, the Wood Brothers own the longest association of any motorsports team with a single manufacturer. Glen’s brother, Leonard, is known for inventing the modern pit stop. The team currently runs the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney in the famous number 21 racecar.