Ford Performance NASCAR: Ryan Blaney Talladega Press Conference

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Geico 500 Advance – Talladega Superspeedway

Friday, May 5, 2017

Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, was a guest in the infield media center at Talladega Superspeedway, where he talked about his visit to New York City and other issues.

RYAN BLANEY – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion – YOU WERE IN NEW YORK CITY YESTERDAY AND NOW HERE IN TALLADEGA. TALK ABOUT YOUR TRIP: “NASCAR had myself, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott. Erik Jones up to New York for some commercial things not only for the Talladega race, but for the sport in general. That was really neat to do. I really enjoy New York personally for two or three days at a time, and then I have to leave there. Why’s that? I don’t really like to be in the city very much. There’s a lot of people there. It was great. We did Fox and Friends, that was very cool. We had to get up at 6 a.m., that was rough. And then we did multiple things throughout the day. I got to go to Marvel, that was pretty cool. It was their comic headquarters where they kind of draw them all and make comics. That was neat for me to go do. I’m hoping to go back and do that again and learn more about it. We did some great things and NASCAR did a great job of getting not only younger drivers in general there and promoting, whether it’s the upcoming race for the sport. I enjoy going and doing that stuff and think it’s really helpful for the sport as well.”

PLATE RACES OVER THE LAST DECADE HAVE BEEN PRETTY MUCH WON BY DRIVERS WITH MORE THAN 100 STARTS. IS THERE ANY OF THOSE DRIVERS THAT YOU LEARN ANY MORE FROM? “Yeah, I feel like in the past four or five years Brad (Keselowski) has been one of the best plate racers out there, especially the past two years. (Him) and his spotter have a great communication, where they know when things are coming and they can anticipate things. Brad’s good at that. Joey Meier, his spotter, is great at predicting runs and things like that. Being a teammate with Brad and watching what he does has really been helpful to me. I feel like we’ve had pretty decent runs, but I never really feel like we’ve been at that point that he’s at, that we’ve had that dominance that whole race. I feel like he can get out there and control the whole race. You don’t’ see that very often and he’s the one person I feel like that can do that in recent years. We’ll definitely have to watch him. We learned a lot of stuff in the offseason and hopefully we can apply it. I feel like Daytona was a good run for us. I think bringing that over will be good.”

AFTER SEEING WHAT HAPPENED TO JOEY LOGANO AND THE 22 TEAM, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ENCUMBERED RULE? “I haven’t put too much thought into that. All these teams, whether it’s the Penske group, Hendrick group, Gibbs group, every single team is trying to push their car to the limit. That’s what this sport is about; trying to get that little bit of advantage. Sometimes the way that the race goes you kind of get caught with something that is minute at the end of these races. That’s just the way it goes. You’ve seen it throughout all racing no matter what form of motorsports. I’ll be honest, I don’t really know too much about the encumbered finish rule, so I wouldn’t be the best and probably couldn’t give the best answer.”

HOW MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE DO YOU FEEL AT TALLADEGA? “I do. I feel like coming to these races that it’s up to fate and it’s lucky, you really can’t control your destiny. You really can control what you do here more than people realize. There’s people winning these races that win them all the time and there’s a reason for that. They’re not lucky time after time. They know what to do and they know how to get up front. We haven’t mastered that. I feel like we do a B-grade job at it. It’s a matter of getting that little extra more. I feel pretty comfortable. I go back to Brad and his spotter and myself and my spotter, Joshua Williams. I feel like we’ve gotten a lot better the last couple years at these speedway tracks. Bringing fast cars also has helped. We need a good run to be honest with you. The last two weeks have been rough finish-wise. I feel like we’ve had pretty okay cars, we’ll just try and not get into trouble and get back on track.”

IT WAS IMPRESSIVE HOW YOU RECAPPED THE STAR WARS MOVIES IN TWO MINUTES. YOU GOT A LOT OF REACTION FOR THAT. HOW DID YOU PLAN FOR THAT AND DID IT COME NATURALLY? “How that came about, we were shooting some stuff with Daryl Motte, Bubba Wallace and myself. I was driving my bus somewhere and we were just shooting me in my motorhome and they were like, ‘Hey, I want you to just recap these films”, which was great. I had no problem doing it. Something I enjoy if you didn’t know. I think it turned out really well. To be honest, I forgot about it for the longest time until it came out yesterday. It turned out good and it got a positive reaction. Usually when I put stuff up about Star Wars or comic stuff or Marvel it usually doesn’t get that big a reaction. I felt that did fairly well. It was kind of funny, so it was pretty cool to do. That was Daryl’s idea.”

A MEDIA TOUR YESTERDAY. THERE’S AN OBVIOUS PUSH TO GET THE YOUNG DRIVERS OUT FRONT IN DIFFERENT FORMS OF MEDIA. DO YOU FEEL PART OF THE RESPONSIBILTY IS TO BRIDGE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE FANS AND DRIVER FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF DRIVERS AND FANS? “Yeah, I definitely feel like it. Personally, I feel like the younger drivers they have, what NASCAR is always trying to reach is a younger fan base. And they’ve implemented things in the last couple of years to get that. And they do a great job pumping out young drivers to try and connect with that younger fan to show that we’re your age. We’re early 20’s and you should be a fan of NASCAR. That’s the stuff NASCAR does. Like I said, I enjoy that stuff and trying to grow the sport back to a younger fan base. And I feel like that’s a big responsibility of ours. Whether that’s us four that were in New York yesterday to Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon who have been in it a little bit, they’re still mid-20’s. They’re still really young. So, I do feel like we’re obligated to build that younger fan base up, and what better way to connect with them than with people their same age.”

CAN YOU ASSESS THE FIRST QUARTER FOR YOU AND THE WOOD BROTHERS TEAM? “We started off the year really strong. I feel like we didn’t get good finishes the first six or seven races. We had really good cars where things happened and we didn’t get the finish we deserved. I’d say our season started off really strong. The past two weeks have been kind of rough on us. Bristol was a shame. We were really fast and had that power-steering issue and had to ride around there for 300 laps to the end of the race. Richmond, I actually salvaged a really good finish out of that after not being good all day…running 18th all day. I think we drove up to eighth and got the car better, and then Kurt (Busch) wrecked us. I feel like those are the things that we need to do if we don’t run well the first three-quarters of the race, keep working on our car and finish well. That’s what we did last week, and I feel like we didn’t have that last year. If we ran bad last year, the first portion of the race we stayed there all day, so this year I feel like we’ve gotten better with that. I’m pretty happy how the Woods Brothers team is running now and where our performance is. It’s just a matter of getting back on track and getting the finishes that we deserve. I feel like there are some really good race tracks that we can definitely capitalize on.”



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.