Ford Performance NASCAR: Ryan Blaney Open Interview – Charlotte 2

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Bank of America 500 – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ryan Blaney (No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center Ford Fusion) met with the media today prior to first practice for this weekend’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

RYAN BLANEY, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center Ford Fusion — ADVANCING INTO THE ROUND 12 IS A BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT FOR THE TEAM. TALK ABOUT COMING INTO CHARLOTTE THIS WEEKEND: “It’s nice to be in the second round. The first round we just survived and last week wasn’t the prettiest at all but we did what we had to do to get in. I look forward to the second round. I think the next tracks will suit us a little bit better because of the mile-and-a-halves, and Talladega we always run decent at. Looking forward to it. It’s nice to be here in Charlotte. Hopefully we can have some good runs and start off on the right foot. Hopefully be in a decent spot for Talladega where we don’t have to hit a homerun or anything like that. If that happen, we’ll just roll with what we have to do. It’s nice to be here. A place where I grew up racing here. It’s a nice race track.”

HAVE YOU NOTICED THE INTENSITY OF RACING DURING THE FIRST THREE ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS? “Yeah, it’s intense, for sure. From Lap 1, that’s the way it’s suppose to be. (It’s) suppose to be ‘on-go’ from the drop of the green flag. There shouldn’t be any riding around. I’m not saying that we do that during the regular season, but there is a lot more give in the regular season and there’s not of that in the postseason and that’s good.  That’s how it should be and that’s how I like racing. Intensity is high but that’s what we race for. I like it.”

DID YOU JUST GET BY IN THE FIRST ROUND? DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO RAISE YOUR GAME IN THE SECOND ROUND? “Yeah, definitely. We can’t go out this weekend and run like we did at Dover. That was pretty bad. We definitely have to be better. We’re going to have to get a bunch of stage points and run at least in the top 10 in all three races to transfer on. As we cut teams it just get harder to make it into the next round. We do have to get better. I’m not going to say we’re where we want to be. We need to be faster and compete and be able to go out there and do it every single weekend. I think this will be a pretty big testament for us and how it’s going to go off here in the second round. We do need to be better, for sure.”

NEXT OCTOBER IS GOING TO BE QUITE DIFFERENT HERE. WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF HOW THAT RACE IS GOING TO GO OFF? “I don’t know. I’m kind of up in the air in my thoughts about it and what to expect. I’m not sure what to expect. I’m don’t think anybody is, really. It will be different. I guess they put some turf down (over there) and that’s a little bit different from what it’s been to separate it. Right now it’s kind of hard to even walk that roval because the campers are here. It will be something different. I know NASCAR is always wanting to change things and the track here at Charlotte was wanting to do something as well. My thoughts about it is that we’ll adapt to it, whatever it is. It being a playoff race it’s a little bit whacky. It will be an interesting second round for sure if it stays in this order with the road course, speedway and mile-and-a-half. That will be a pretty unique round for sure. I think it will be pretty neat. The fans will hopefully like it. Something new and that’s never a bad thing.”

WHERE DO YOU HAVE TO BE AT IN POINT STANDINGS AFTER THIS RACE HEADING INTO TALLADEGA NEXT WEEK? “If we’re in victory lane, to be honest with you. I feel that’s the only way that you can really feel good about heading into a speedway like that. Even if you win a couple stages, yeah, that’s great and you have a bunch of gap. But you can go out and get caught in one before the first stage and lose a bunch. I don’t think you can ever feel comfortable going into a speedway race unless you’re locked in. Hopefully we can win the race. That’s our main goal. Maybe a solid day helps out. I don’t think you really be comfortable unless you win the race going into next week.”

LAP TRAFFIC MAY HAVE COME INTO PLAY IN THE OUTCOME OF THE RACE AT DOVER. HOW ARE YOU FINDING THE COURTESY AMONGST LAPPED CARS? “They’re racing like they should. If you look at the situation last week, there’s two sides to every story. The 31 is trying to make his season and make it into the next round and he’s going to be a lap down if there’s a caution…trying to get some spots. There could have been some leeway that he could have given the 24, but (he’s) racing for his season pretty much. You can’t blame him for that even

though the outcome kind of stunk for the 24. Lapped traffic is kind of how it is….kind of car-related. The 31 is in the playoffs trying to make the next round. If it was another car who is laps down or isn’t in the playoffs they might give him some room. You have to understand who’s racing for what. They deserve to be out there as well, no matter how many laps down they are. They’re racing also. I don’t think that’s changed very much in the playoffs; the lapped traffic. It was hard to pass last week, for sure. Traffic was pretty rough, pretty brutal. I really don’t think it’s changed too much here whether it’s the playoffs of the regular season.”

THERE’S FOUR TOYOTAS LEFT. KYLE LARSON IS LEFT AND SHOWN A LOT OF SPEED. HOW DO YOU COMPETE AGAINST THOSE TEAMS? AND DO YOU VIEW IT AS RACING FOR ONE OF THE THREE SPOTS FOR THE NEXT ROUND? “Honestly, you do kind of look at it like that. Personally, there’s three teams that have been the class of the Cup Series all season. I think you guys know who the three teams that have been there, especially showing muscle the last few months. You can almost look at it that way. You never know what can happen and who can get knocked out or get in. It’s just circumstances. I really don’t look at it that way. I really try not to focus on only one spot in the final four. I just try to get to the next round. Focus on each weekend individually and just try and do our job and move on to the next one. I think that’s the best way to go about things especially the way the systems are now. Those guys have run great all year. You have to respect them for it. They’re doing a great job. As I said earlier, we need to get out team better. We need to be better whether it’s cars faster, I need to be better, execution on pit road needs to be better. So, we can improve a handful of things. Hopefully we can make a little bit of a march towards those top three cars. It will be difficult to do but I have faith in us. Hopefully we can do it.”

WERE YOU CAUGHT OFF-GUARD THAT YOU GUYS WEREN’T BETTER IN THE FIRST ROUND? “It’s hard to tell. You really never know how you’re going to stack up before the playoffs. Everyone brings new updates, new cars and everything like that. It’s hard to tell where you’re going to be. I really didn’t have a ton of expectations going in. I just wanted to do our job and transfer into this round because our team deserves to be in at least this round. I think we’ve shown that, proven that. I knew the first round was going to be the toughest to be honest with you because I struggle at Loudon pretty bad. Dover hasn’t been my best race track. I thought that was going to be a struggle round for us. I’m really looking forward to this one because we run pretty good on these race tracks. Our goal was to survive You just can’t lay over and take it. You have to try and do your just the best you can and try and get some point for the next round. I just go to each race and try and win it. I don’t really look at the week after. Just try do the best weekend in the moment.”

AS STRONG AS THE FORD SPEEDWAY PROGRAM HAS BEEN AND HOW STRONG THE 21 PROGRAM HAS BEEN ON THE PLATE TRACK, CAN YOU TAKE ANY SENSE OF COMFORT THAT YOU GUYS ARE ALWAYS GOOD IN THE DRAFT OR IS IT SO UNPREDICTABLE? “It’s hard. There’s confidence because we run pretty decent there. We’ve had some good runs at the speedways, but you never know. We’ve had great runs at Talladega and we got KO’d in the race earlier this year and got knocked-out. You just never know what can happen. It’s just circumstance and chance unless you are just dominant and can lead the whole race. I’ve seen a couple do that in the past

handful of years. But even that I’ve seen them fall back and get wrecked. There’s not a lot of comfort that you can bring to that race. Just know that you run decent that and our car is pretty fast. Hopefully you can make the right move and decisions and have a little bit of luck on your side. That comes into play on those tracks, unfortunately. There’s confidence but not a lot of comfort.”

WHAT’S ROBERT YATES’ LEGACY TO YOU? WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST MEMORY OF HIM? “That was really tough to hear that news. The Yates family has been a huge part of NASCAR for a really long time. It’s really great to show the support that Doug (Yates) has through our team and carry on his father’s legacy. I’ve always appreciated the Yates family for all the advancements they’ve made in NASCAR from back in the day and still advancing and improving. Probably one of the top engine manufacturers today.


“I had a really great story about Robert. So we did our victory lunch at Roush-Yates for Pocono about a month, month-and-a-half ago and Robert came. Doug was there and Robert was there. The Wood Brothers, Eddie, Len and I and Robert and Doug sat down and talked for at least two hours after the lunch was over. Just hearing stories. (Robert) reminds me a lot of Leonard. He was a great storyteller. He had just a ton of stories. He told me a great story about A.J. Foyt. He was working on his Silver Crown car of his back in the day. I can’t remember the year. You kind of get the sense of who the two people are. He’s out there running at Indianapolis Raceway Park, IRP. A.J. comes in and says, ‘The carburetor isn’t running right. It’s not running right.’ Robert says, ‘Ok, let me fix it.’ (A.J.) goes out again and comes and says, ‘I’m telling you, it’s not right. We need to replace it.’ Robert says, ‘Let’s just fix it.’. He said that A.J. came out from behind the toolbox with a five pound sledge hammer and just beats the hell out of this carburetor. And A.J says, ‘Well, I think you should put a new one on it now.’ I thought that was a pretty funny story. There was a handful of others there but that was my favorite. It was nice to get to know Robert a bit before he passed. Great guy. Just loved the sport and probably one of the biggest innovators of the sport on the engine side. I’m thinking about his family. I know Doug has been a great person to get to know and I know he’s going to definitely make his father proud.”

GREAT CHANCE FOR RAIN THE NEXT FEW DAYS HERE. HOW WILL THAT AFFECT YOU GUYS ON SUNDAY AND THE NEXT FEW DAYS? “Yeah, it will be interesting to see what the weather does. It doesn’t look great, especially for Sunday. I’m not sure how tomorrow looks. Whether it’s going to be a night race or a Monday afternoon race, I don’t know. I know it’s going to affect the PJ1 that they plan to put down on the second, third lane. They’ll probably have to reapply it. Green race tracks are pretty hard to practice on. We’ll have one today, a green race track until it rubbers in. We’ll probably start this practice with the race track we’re going to race on just because the rain is going to wash all the rubber away. It will be just like this. We’ll take a lot of notes of how we start off, fire off and where our car goes as it rubbers in. That will be a really important deal. We’ll have to pay close attention to that this afternoon when we get on the track.”


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.