Ford Performance NASCAR: Fontana (Ryan Blaney Media Availability)

Ford PR

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes

Friday, March 15, 2019


EVENT: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Driver Availability (Ryan Blaney)


RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang — HOW IS BEING AN UNCLE TREATING YOU? “Really well. I got a video this morning he’s laughing for the first time so that was pretty cool. That’s been good. He’s just over two months now so that part is pretty cool. Really happy for him and I can’t wait to see him again. But being an uncle is really cool. That’s the first grandchild or nephew that’s come into the family on our side. So that part is pretty cool to watch him grow up. He came to Daytona and he wasn’t even a month old. So they started him off pretty young and he’s going to be growing up around it a lot. It’s been really, really fun.”


YOU HAVE LED A LOT OF LAPS THIS YEAR, HOW DO YOU CARRY THAT OVER TO THE REST OF THE SEASON? “Hopefully it keeps going. I mean it was finally nice to get a finish where we’ve been running all year. You know, we’ve run up towards the front that every race track this year lead laps and you know the first three races just happened towards the end of them. And my best finish before last week was like 23rd and that really stunk because it didn’t reflect where we’ve been running all year. So it was nice to finally have a good run at Phoenix. We were pretty good all day and then it was a shame we couldn’t hold on to it at the end. Two tires were not enough for 60 laps to go or 50 to go or whatever it was. It was nice finally run well and finish where we deserve and hopefully that just keeps going.”


HOW DOES THE NEW PIT ROAD SPEED DURING QUALIFYING AFFECT ANYTHING? “Yeah, that will be different, this pit road speed deal. You won’t be able to haul butt off pit road if you’re kind of way in the back you know you’re gonna get penalized so you’re gonna have to time it a little bit better. I think it will be pretty close to Vegas. I mean, you saw practice today. There were cars really close to each other other cars kind of space out a little bit. Everyone was kind of getting a gauge of how far back you can be to try  to get a run at somebody and especially a huge two mile race track like this. You’re going to have a lot of time kind of drafting up to the car in front of you. There were only a handful cars wide open the whole lap so it’s different than Vegas as far as that goes. I feel like it’ll be similar to there. We might not be as close to each other, but you still want to try to get a draft off of somebody to kind of help you along.”


WILL IT BECOME ABOUT PEOPLE JOCKEYING FOR POSITION IN THAT LAST ZONE OF PIT ROAD TO GO OUT? “Yeah that’s going to be tough. We are really only allowed two lines on pit road – two lanes – and if everyone’s gonna be two maybe three cars in that last zone. Everyone’s gonna be out of that. But I still think if you’re in like the last two or three zones, you’re not going to get up to speed in time just to speed in a section maybe. I think if you have to be careful if it comes down to the end of the session and everyone starts to go off pit road hard if you’re kind of way in the back and you’re five sections from the end and then trying to keep up with everybody you might speed so you’re gonna have to be conscious of that. We’ll see how it plays out but I think it was right thing to do. You can’t just have cars hauling the mail down pit road because that can cause a wreck. You saw at Vegas at the end of that one with cars coming from the back and then really flying through there. But let’s see.”


NEXT WEEK AT MARTINSVILLE, AFTER WHAT WE SAW THERE LAST FALL, DO THE RULES CHANGE IN THE FINAL LAPS AT THAT TRACK? “That is just racing. You know that deal last year in the fall, obviously there was mixed views about it and  I didn’t really have an opinion about it. I wasn’t a part of it so I don’t really have a stern opinion about it. To me it was just racing and obviously you can have two sides of story no matter whose side you are on.  I can see the 22 side of the story I can see the 78 and why he was mad. It just kind of goes both ways, whatever spot you’re in. I think those rules, you’re going to be more aggressive towards the end of races no matter what it is, whether you lay the bumper to somebody or race more aggressively. That kind of I think applies at any race track and it just comes into play at Martinsville because you are so close together and it’s such a heavy braking track. You might not do that at lap 100,  move someone out of the way that hard. But at the end of the race, you gotta do what you can do to win the race. So like I said, the opinions change and whoever side you are on for whoever either you’re a fan of or what team you work for. No one’s ever going to agree on something. They’re always gonna be mixed opinions and that’s just the way it is.”


HOW DO YOU THINK THE WIND AND DRAFT WILL PLAY A FACTOR IN QUALIFYING TODAY? “If it keeps up like this it will play a big factor. I can’t remember it ever been this windy here. It’s always kind of been a little bit but not bad and this kind of reminds me of Vegas. Vegas can get pretty windy. In to three it always goes down the back straightaway in three and here’s kind of moving around and almost blows from like turn two to turn four and you can feel it. Sometimes I had a run where I didn’t feel it and the next run I did and it was just gusting that is hard to predict. I got asked earlier if you can set your car up to change that and you just kind of have to deal with it and hopefully it just doesn’t hit you. The worst spot that it can hit you is in the left side door and just kind of shoot you up the racetrack. When it is blowing from two to four, when you’re coming off four it can they can really hit you and send you up the racetrack. So it’ll play a factor just kind of depends on when it blows hard and if you’re out there and it hits you at the wrong time. Between the wind today and drafting, it will be interesting. It has been windy and I think it is supposed to keep up. I don’t know if there is a big front coming in our what but you can feel it for sure.”


WHAT IS YOUR VIEWPOINT OF WHAT KYLE BUSCH HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO AS HE APPROACHES 200 CAREER WINS? “It is impressive. I mean, what he’s able to do in any series. You watch him week in and week out. Truck, Xfinity, Cup Series, he is one of the best drivers. That is why he wins so much. I was a big fan and still am of him growing up. What is he, 33? I watched him when I was growing up and he was dominating races then and still is. I feel like he is just getting better as years go on. I hear a lot of people giving grief of how he has just mainly won in Xfinity and Trucks, but yeah, he is deserving of it. I don’t know what his win percentage is in those series’ but it is pretty high. It almost makes me mad how good he is. As a competitor I don’t like seeing him win. It frustrates me how he is able to find a way to be better than everybody else a lot of weekends. He is very smart at knowing what his car needs and you see him a lot get so much better throughout the race. He knows what he needs as the race progresses and that is a hard thing to do. He has figured it out. Him and Adam Stevens and it is really impressive. You have to admire it. Even though I am jealous of it. You have to admire it. He is definitely up there with one of the greats, for sure, as race car drivers that will go down in history, so it is pretty neat to watch him do it even though I would like to be in the same spot.”


YOU HAVE FINISHED SECOND TO HIM FIVE TIMES, ANY OF THOSE STAND OUT TO YOU? “Yeah, Indianapolis 2015 in the Xfinity car. I passed him on the restart. Led the last, I think it was 23 to go, I led the last 22 and a half laps and it was my mistake how he beat me. Yeah, that one I will always think about. Yeah, second five times to him. I didn’t know that. It pisses me off even more. You have to appreciate what he has done. It is pretty spectacular.”


DO YOU HAVE MUCH INPUT IN HOW THE CAR IS SET UP? DOES YOUR ENGINEER LISTEN TO YOU ON THAT STUFF? “How it kind of works during the week is my crew chief and two engineers and myself at least get on a call or meet and kind of go over a game plan of what the strategy is for the weekend. Practice schedule and things like that and what we are going to work on as far as changes. They usually have a list of changes they want to try throughout the race weekend that they either know work or things we want to experiment with. Especially now with the new package as far as the shocks and springs and wedge and track bar heights. That is mainly the crew chiefs and engineers because that is their job. My main input is how the car is driving and if something worked here in the past, maybe we could go that direction. So, it is all kind of a group effort. As far as the basic setups and things like that and how they want to unload, that is between those three people. When we get to the track and I am telling them what the car is doing, that is 100-percent them listening to me and then we all brianstorm what we can do and what changes we should make. The midweek stuff of setting the car up is those three people and it is a very important time for them.”


DO YOU THINK IT IS FAIR TO ONLY FOCUS ON CHAMPIONSHIPS WHEN TALKING ABOUT GREAT DRIVERS IN THE SPORT? “That debate is kind of in all of sports isn’t it. You look at basketball and Jordan vs. Lebron and that big debate. It goes back to rings and stuff like that. It is so hard to compare past and present. Everyone just tries to compare Jimmie or Kyle to Dale Earnhardt or Richard Petty and people like that and you can’t. You can’t compare them. It is a totally different era. You never know how one would do in a certain time period. That is a hard debate. I think you just kind of look at the era that they are in and kind of compare them to the drivers that they have been up against. As far as the championships, I think you have to look at both. You have to look at championships, wins, what they have done for the sport. I think all three of those kind of go into it. I saw a lot of people comparing Jimmie and Kyle and their first 15 seasons and Jimmie has won more championships and races in his first 15 seasons or whatever but I feel like I don’t think Jimmie is light years ahead of Kyle., I think they are pretty even as far as being amazing race car drivers. You have to look at the whole thing, not just championships, especially since the championship format has changed and things like that. It is hard comparing people, past and present, you have to look at overall things. It is a good thing I am not on a selection committee or things like that. That is a tough job comparing great drivers or crew chiefs or owners.”


YOU HAVE WON ON THE TRIANGLE AND WON ON THE ROVAL, WHAT IS THE OVAL TRACK YOU WILL WIN AT? “Hopefully here. I don’t really have one circled. I just try to win whenever I can. It is so hard to do. I want to try to get one this weekend. I think our cars have been fast enough to do it. It is about putting the whole race together. As far as favorite race tracks, the Bristol night race is a favorite of mine. I don’t have that circled. I want to win every one. We will see if we can start here and then keep going.”


Greg Engle