Ford Performance NASCAR: Kansas 2 Ryan Blaney Media Availability

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Hollywood Casino 400 (Kansas Speedway)

Friday, October 19, 2018


Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Menards/Wrangler Riggs Workwear Ford, enters the final race of Round 2 of MENCS playoffs 22 points outside of the top-eight and a spot in Round 3. Blaney met with media members Friday morning ahead of the first practice session of the weekend.


RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Wrangler Riggs Workwear Ford Fusion — WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS COMING IN HERE TO KANSAS AND WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO PERFORMANCE WISE TO ADVANCE TO THE NEXT ROUND? “We have to most likely win the race from where we are in points with how much we have to make up and with the drivers that are ahead of us, the 14 and 78. The 78 is lights-out here and the 14 is good. Brad (Keselowski) is really good here too. It is going to be hard to points our way in. We will do our best to make that happen. This is a good track for us. I can’t think of another track to try to go to and try to win at. We’ve had a shot here multiple times, especially the first race this year here before I wrecked ourselves. It is a good place for us. Hopefully we can have a shot at it come Sunday and try to move on.”


ON A WEEK LIKE THIS, AN ELIMINATION RACE, WHERE YOU OR BRAD, MAYBE ONE OR THE OTHER ADVANCE. DO YOU TALK MORE, TALK LESS? WHAT IS IT LIKE RACING YOUR TEAMMATE FOR THAT? “Really no different. We don’t quiz each other before any week, whether it is the second race of the year or this race. We just talk between teams and try to work together the best you can and try to do well. It is really no different. Brad and I have always been very open with each other. It is really no different this weekend. You just focus on what you need to do to win, try not to make it bigger than it is. Even though it is our season pretty much. Our chance at a championship is this weekend. You try not to let that distract you. Between Brad and I it is no different. We will still work together and try to make our cars as best we can between talking between practices and after happy hour tomorrow. We will try to figure out where our cars are and how we can make them better.”


IF YOU DON’T ADVANCE, ARE THERE PARTS OF THE SEASON YOU LOOK BACK ON THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A DO-OVER AT? “If you are eliminated this weekend I guess you can look back and say, ‘if this would have happened, or that would have happened’. If we hadn’t run out of gas last week we would probably be a little ahead of the cut line right now. Nothing I can do about that. If we don’t transfer, it isn’t the end of our year. We still have four races left to try to go win and you can still finish fifth in points. Yeah it would be disappointing if you don’t but you try to move on from that best you can. Right now we are focused on trying to figure out how to win this one and try to keep moving on and keep surviving. It has been a good year for us. It has been up and down and we have shown some speed. You would like to have some races back, just like everybody, that you can redo. You just try to learn from those the best you can and try to make it better for next year. I haven’t really even thought about that though. I am just focused on the current weekend.”


HOW SMOOTH HAS THE TRANSITION FROM WOOD BROTHERS TO TEAM PENSKE GONE THIS YEAR? “It has been really easy. We were pretty much settled in during the off-season, even the first couple of races. A lot of people from the Wood Brothers crew on that car came over with me on the 12 car and there were a lot of Penske employees brought over, including the crew chief, engineer, pit crew members and mechanics. There were really only three or four new people on this team from last year. That has been really nice. We all get along with each other and the new guys that we added are guys that we have worked with at some point so it has been super easy. The main difference is that I don’t get to see Eddie and Len and Leonard every weekend all weekend like I used to. I try to pop over there and Leonard finds me pretty much before every race. It has been a nice transition.”


YOU HAVE SOME STILL COMPETITION IN THIS RACE OF GUYS FIGHTING TO ADVANCE THAT HAVE BEEN REALLY, REALLY GOOD HERE IN THE PAST: “I think we have run right with those guys here. It is going to be tough for sure. Those guys have been great. You throw Brad in that too because he has been good here before too. There are three guys outside the cut line that have run really good at this race track. Larson has run really good here, Harvick has been lights out, Truex is on the bubble and he has been great here. It is going to be a really tough race. We are going to be watching three or four cars that are racing their guts out for this transfer spot either on points or to win the race. It is going to be a tough race for all 400 miles. I try not to focus on the other cars too much, I just try to figure out how to get our car the best we can and the best we can do is to run second or third then we know we tried our best. I do believe the best we can do here is win the race. We have had opportunities to do that here and haven’t made it happen. It is a matter of closing out the race. It will be a tough one for sure. We race for tough races and challenges. When you can overcome those challenges and do well and come away victorious, that is why we do it. It makes you feel good to put all that work in.”


NEXT WEEK AT MARTINSVILLE, YOU SEEM TO BE GETTING BETTER THERE. ARE YOU FIGURING IT OUT? DO YOU LIKE THAT PLACE? “Yeah, that place was a struggle. Even in trucks I didn’t really run good there. We ran fifth a couple times. I think we ran both the races in 2015 and then 16 and 17 were tough years. I actually thought the fall race last year was pretty good for us. We ran well. This year we led a bunch of laps and won a stage and finished third. That was a big confidence builder for us. We work to get better at that place because I have struggled pretty bad there. We worked super hard to try to figure out what we need to do to get better there. Whether it was me driving or where the car needs to be. We worked so hard on that race track and I think it has started to come around, which is nice. I crew up 45 minutes from Martinsville. I grew up closer to Martinsville than Charlotte. It is pretty much a home race for me. I always hated running bad there because it is a race I always went to to watch my dad run. It meant a lot for the Wood Brothers with them being from right down the road. It has been a lot of hard work. It is nice that it is coming around so that hopefully we can have consistent good runs at that track.”


WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT THE 2018 PLATE RACES, WITH THAT BE A SOURCE OF SOME REGRET FOR YOU? “You look back at the plate races and we had a good shot to win the 500 but got caught up in some mess. I can’t remember exactly what happened. First Talladega race we got some damage. July Daytona we got tore up in the beginning and then last week we ran out of gas. I personally enjoy plate racing. I think it is fun. I don’t have the best plate race finishes but we run pretty good, it is just hard to get to the end of them. You try not to dwell on that stuff too much and try to figure out what you can do different. Maybe you can draft differently or make different decisions in certain situations but yeah, the 500 for sure, I think you look at that one and wish you would have done things different. You just try to learn from it, don’t dwell on it. When you look back at it, you just have to use it to get ready for the next one.”


YOU ARE GOOD BUDDIES WITH CHASE ELLIOTT. HAS HIM WINNING A COUPLE RACES THIS YEAR HELPED HIS DEMEANOR? TAKEN SOME PRESSURE OFF HIM? “I think he and that team were past due. They deserved to win at least a couple races before this year. It was nice to finally see everything work out for him and put together some great races. I think he is more than deserving of it. I don’t think he has changed much. He has always been an easy going guy who races super hard and knows what it takes now to win these races which is good for him. It is really nice to see him win but I haven’t noticed a change in him. He isn’t more relaxed or anything like that. He has always been relaxed no matter how good or bad things are. He has always been that way. Once that door opened up for him I think it will open more and more as far as the wins and accomplishing that more and more. Hopefully we can keep up with him.”


WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD HERE? “I think there are a couple reasons. We always run pretty good on all 1.5 mile tracks. It is a place you can search around the racetrack a lot and that is good. The on-throttle time, I have been always heavier with the right foot and this track kind of welcomes that. It is pretty grippy. Things like that. I made my first start here in 2014 and I think that holds a special place, wherever you get your first start, in any series, but in the Cup Series in particular. I think it is just the way the track is with being fast and grippy. That has always suited me. That is the way I have always been. It isn’t a good thing at other tracks. A lot of time I want to be wide open and that can hurt you at the worn out places but it seems to work here.”


DID YOU TALK TO NASCAR AT ALL ABOUT THAT LAST CAUTION LAST WEEK? “No, I didn’t. I was frustrated after it, just like anybody who ran out of gas. The 41 car, me, the 2, 4. Yeah, you are frustrated and obviously that one lap, I didn’t get why we ran an extra one. It isn’t my call to make. At the time you think you know everything but there is a reason, a rhyme and reason why they did that. I can’t really tell anybody how to do their job. It isn’t my place to do that. I haven’t talked to them. It is just the way it is. You are frustrated for an hour after the race. Especially the five minutes after you get out of the car but you get over it. I haven’t spoken to them because it is in the past and nothing I can do about it now.”


YOU ARE SPORTING A NEW LOOK THIS WEEKEND ON YOUR CAR: “I am really excited. We have a new partner with Wrangler and Riggs. That came about a couple months ago. It is nice to have these new companies come in and be primaries on the car. It means a lot. It is pretty cool to have the Wrangler brand back in NASCAR. That is really special. I got to meet everybody at Au Claire, Wisconsin, at the Menards vendor day and it was cool to meet everyone from the company. I am excited to have them on board, especially at a big race like this. They are going to be on our car for the next couple years and it means a lot to have new people coming into the sport. It is huge. You don’t see that a lot nowadays. We have been doing a good job getting new partners on board. I think that is healthy for the sport. It has been nice. I am looking forward to the future with these folks. Hopefully we can get them a win this weekend.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.