Ryan Blaney has a reason to smile

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 15: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 15: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 15: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

BROOKLYN, Mich.–Ryan Blaney is all smiles this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. And as he should be.

Not only is the 20-year old the current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader for Brad Keselowski Racing, but he is also the new driver of the famed No. 21 Ford Fusion for Wood Brothers Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2015.

Officially announced Thursday, Blaney will take the reins from current driver Trevor Bayne who will move to a full-time Cup ride at Roush Fenway Racing next season. Blaney, a Team Penske Racing development driver since 2012, will compete in at least 12 races driving the iconic No. 21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford Fusion.

“I am very excited to be able to race for the Wood Brothers next year,” said Blaney Friday morning. “They have been so great to me with the week and a half that I have been over there. The history of this team is very special and being able to drive for this team is special and a dream come true.”

The Wood Brothers Racing team will get more than just Blaney though. The Stuart, Virginia-based team also announced that it has formed a technical alliance with Team Penske.

“Right now we have an alliance with Roush Fenway and that includes engineering, cars and everything about it. It will be a similar situation with Team Penske,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing. “The difference will be that Team Penske has never done this before. This is new to them. That will be a work in progress to figure out how to do everything. It is going to be a similar situation.”

This weekend, Blaney is getting acquainted with his new ride by practicing and qualifying the No. 21 Ford Fusion for Bayne, who’s in Mid-Ohio competing in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 (2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN). Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner for Wood Brother Racing, will race Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400 Sprint Cup event.

Blaney’s first Cup race under the Wood Brothers Racing banner will come in next February’s season-opening Daytona 500.

About Greg Engle 7420 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 Examiner.com 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.