NASCAR Media Conference
September 25, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today's press conference with Ryan Blaney, driver of the No.29 Cooper Standard Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Blaney won his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race last weekend at Kentucky Speedway, driving the No.22 Discount Tire Ford for Penske Racing. He's the first NASCAR Next graduate to win in two different NASCAR national series.
Ryan, coming off your first career Nationwide Series win, how do you feel about getting back behind the wheel of the No.29 truck this weekend for your first career start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway?
RYAN BLANEY: Well, any time that a driver is coming off a win the week before just gives the driver a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence to go in there the next week and try to repeat what you did the previous week.
I'm not saying it gives all the team guys‑‑ even though it wasn't any of my truck guys that were there for the win, it still gives them a lot of confidence and really fires them up for the next week.
So I'm really looking forward to getting to Las Vegas, and like you said, my first time to be out there and get on that racetrack. So I'm really excited for it.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Ryan.
We will now go to the media for questions for today's guest Ryan Blaney.
Q. Ryan, first of all, can you just talk about how much excitement and enjoyment there was in winning that race and maybe compare it to your first truck win.
RYAN BLANEY: It stacks up right there with it, right there with Iowa last year. You know, it's your first win in the Nationwide Series, and that really is a lot similar to the first one in the Truck Series.
Nothing is ever going to really beat that first win you get in NASCAR ever, but it was very close, winning with a new group of guys.
That group of guys, I was with a lot at the end of 2012 when I ran that 22 car about seven or eight races while Brad was focused on the Championship. So I got to know those guys very well. Getting to know Jeremy a lot that last year and over this offseason, he's improved so much. He's really given that car what it needs.
So it's definitely right up there with it, but I don't think any win is ever going to be as special as that first one.
Q. And then also, there's been a lot of talk about you about next year. There's a lot of rumors that Furniture Row is interested, and Roger Penske said on Sunday that he kind of expects you to be in the Trucks next year and do some Nationwide. I'm curious if you kind of have a feeling of what you're going to do next year, and I guess, if you don't, what would be your preference.
RYAN BLANEY: Well, there has been very, very little talks with other teams, but right now my loyalty is to Penske Racing and finishing out this 2013 season very strong, either in that Nationwide car, if I get another race, or finishing out the Truck season very strong for Brad Keselowski Racing.
Just really focused on that right now, and then in the offseason, we'll see what doors open up or if we progress here with Penske like planned.
So we'll find out here in the coming months, but right now my loyalty is to Penske and finishing out this 2013 season very strong.
Q. Yeah, Ryan, just wanted you to talk a little bit about your goals for the rest of the season in the Truck Series. Obviously, you've already got the win under your belt and are pretty good in points but pretty far back from Matt Crafton.
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, we had definitely gotten in a little bit of trouble earlier in the year, whether it's mechanical issues or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time and ending up with a wrecked truck.
But I think my Brad Keselowski Racing team has really improved here over the past few months with winning Pocono and having a good shot to win Bristol and running up front in Chicago.
We've had a lot of good runs the past few months, and it's unfortunate we got ourselves so far behind in the first half of the season, but that's what racing is all about. The 88 team has done an awesome job of really being consistent and really being able to build up that huge point lead.
Right now our focus is to try to go out there and win these last, final races, and I think that, if the points work out to our favor, maybe we'll be right there. But my main goal and the main goal of our team is to go out and try to win every one of these last races.
Q. And just to follow up real quick, can you just talk a little bit about your overall confidence level as a driver right now coming off the huge Nationwide win and the Truck win not too long ago?
RYAN BLANEY: You know, any time you win in any series, your confidence level as a driver goes way up. It just proves that you can do it, and, you know, to jump in there with that great team like the 22 team, it was really special to do that, especially, like I said before, I've run with them a good bit in 2012, and it was cool to finally get a win for them.
Yeah, it just‑‑ you know, your confidence as a driver goes way up. The confidence of the team goes way up, even when it's my Truck team. They're really confident right now and really pumped to go to Las Vegas.
Just overall, it helps, and you hope to make something of that momentum going into the next week and just still keep building off of that and having good runs after that.
Q. Hey, Ryan. Last year, right after you started running Nationwide‑‑ I think it was Charlotte I talked after the race‑‑ and you said you were still getting comfortable running the bigger tracks. What were some of the main things that you had to learn, and how long did that take? And at what point did you feel like you were comfortable enough you could have a performance like you had at Kentucky the other night?
RYAN BLANEY: Well, it takes a while to really get used to the big mile and a half race tracks, whether it's in a Truck or a Nationwide car because these cars nowadays are so aero sensitive that you have to know when to put yourself in a certain position and if it's going to cost you or not.
So just trying to learn that took a while, but I feel like I'm very confident with it now and knowing where to put my truck or car on the racetrack on a mile and a half, when you come up on a pack of cars or you're trying to get around somebody.
So that's really the main problem everyone runs into nowadays is you can be a lot faster than the guy ahead of you or the group ahead of you, and you get to him, and you can't go anywhere. It's just the aerodynamics of these cars nowadays.
Yeah, I think I'm very comfortable with that nowadays. I feel like I do a pretty decent job of it, but I know I've still got a lot to learn, and I'm learning every single race.
Q. Is there any point that you started to feel really comfortable with that and could produce like you did the other night?
[Blaney’s phone line disconnected.]
Q. Hey, Ryan, hope you're doing well and congratulations. One quick question. Wanted to know if you'd tested a Cup car yet.
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah. First of all, thank you, and I have. I've done a decent amount of testing with Penske last offseason, I mean, their Cup cars. They had me do a bunch of that stuff, whether it's in a Cup car or a Nationwide car.
I have a fair amount of experience in the Gen‑6 cars. So, yeah, it's pretty nice that I can go out there and test Penske stuff and kind of get a feel for those.
Q. Hi, Ryan, congratulations on the win.
RYAN BLANEY: Thank you.
Q. With the Truck win, you got the Nationwide win, and as Bob mentioned earlier, the talk of Furniture Row. Have you sat back really and taken all of this in, and what's been your impression of everything that's gone on so far?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, when you get some time and you're able to sit back and kind of see what all is happening‑‑ and I've been very fortunate to be able to get hooked up with such a great organization like Penske Racing and get to know someone like Brad and really learn from him, and with Joey Logano coming on board, really learn from Joey also and Sam Hornish too.
So I've been incredibly fortunate here over the past year and a half to be with such a great organization with great people around there and Mr. Penske, and Tim Cindric has really taken care of me and have. Just all the people that have gotten me here, I make sure they know that after every big thing that happens.
So like I said, just really lucky to be where I am, and just keep growing in the sport, and hopefully it pays off for us here at the end.
Q. Does it feel like maybe you've been moving too fast, or how would you like to progress through the Series? You got the full‑time Truck deal. You've been running Nationwide races. What would you like to do from here on out instead of maybe jumping into a Cup car right away? How would you like to progress through the Series?
RYAN BLANEY: I think to really progress, I'd obviously like to do more Nationwide races than I got this year. I only got about two this year. So obviously, I'd like to do more of that, especially with how relaxed the Truck schedule is, only racing 22 times a year. You have a lot of down time.
There will be some times where it's three weeks in between races for the Truck guys, and that really just gets you out of rhythm and kind of makes you a little bit rusty.
Obviously, I'd like to race a lot more and wish I had more Nationwide races to get me more experience in those cars. So that's really what I'd like, but it's not my decision to make. It's the guys over there at Penske and knowing what they can do and what they think I'm ready for.
Yeah, I always like to try to move fast, but there's a point where you've got to kind of sit back and stop yourself before you start moving too fast and make a mistake of jumping up too early and kind of making yourself look bad when you do that.
Q. Ryan, you're so much fun and such a smart young guy, and I get to interview you a lot after races because you do well. Do you feel sort of‑‑ do you feel inside kind of smarter, beyond your years? Because you really come across as if you've grown up to kind of be wiser than a young man of your age.
RYAN BLANEY: I mean, I like to think I'm smart. I don't know what other people think, but everyone always likes to think better of themselves.
I've had a really good teacher with my dad really teaching me everything he knows. Brad really helped me out there, and like I said, Joey being really close to my age and kind of having the same circumstances as me. Obviously, he moved up a lot faster, but he's been in the sport for a long time, and he's only 23 years old. So he's been a good help of kind of learning from him.
So, yeah, I've been told that, but you got to keep a level head and know that you're never the smartest guy out there. There's guys that are always going to be smarter than you and know more about these cars.
So I'm working to try to make myself better at that. I think there's been small improvements but not nearly what I want to see. Hopefully, in the coming years, as I get older and as I get more experience, whether in the Trucks or Nationwide cars or Cup cars, you just keep learning and keep progressing and just keep getting smarter about the whole racing in general.
Q. It was really great to see your dad, because I interviewed him on Sunday, and he's usually sort of like you, kind of serious on the front, but he could not stop smiling. He was grinning from ear to ear. He said he called you and that you weren't as excited outwardly as he thought you would have been. Your dad was just so excited for you, and I wonder if it was a lot of fun to‑‑ if you saw him after or talked to him after and saw how excited your dad was.
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, I called him about an hour after the race when I was driving to the airport. I know he was really excited. It was bad that he couldn't be there. He's been at every single one of my first wins. He was at my first K&N win, my first Truck win.
I know it killed him to not be there at the first Nationwide win, but I had my mom and older sister there. So it was good to have some family there. But I know it was great for him to see and just kind of see where all his hard work and money paid off to really give me a secure spot and a good home like Penske Racing.
I guess, as a dad, that's what you want to see out of your kid, to be successful, especially after you spent most of your life learning and teaching me to‑‑ you know, that's what he always wanted me to be, and that's what I always wanted to be.
So I guess, as a dad, he feels a lot of accomplishment in kind of making sure I got there and helping me out every single step along the way.
Q. No kidding. Congratulations. Thanks a lot, man.
RYAN BLANEY: Thanks.
THE MODERATOR: All right, Ryan. Thanks for joining us today. Best of luck this weekend at Las Vegas.
RYAN BLANEY: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: And thank you to the media for joining us as well. A transcript of this teleconference and all audio files will be available later today on NASCARmedia.com. Thank you.
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