KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Ryan Blaney remembers well the time last year when he beat his father in a dirt Modified Series race. In the days afterward, the 20-year-old driver who is now a NASCAR star-in-the-making, made sure that his father would remember it well also.
“I definitely gave him grief,” a grinning Ryan said Thursday at Kansas Speedway, site of this weekend’s NASCAR action.
Saturday night, the younger Blaney will have a chance to improve on his record against his father, but this time on a much bigger stage as he and dad Dave Blaney are both entered in the 5-Hour Energy 400 Benefiting Special Operations Warrior Foundation NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX).
If Ryan qualifies his No. 12 Team Penske SKF Ford for the Kansas race on Friday, it’ll be his Sprint Cup debut.
He will also be pulling double duty at Kansas if he qualifies, as Ryan is also entered in the SFP 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on Friday night (8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1).
Yep, big weekend for Ryan Blaney. The one he has waited for all his racing life, he said Thursday during a media session in the Kansas infield.
With that in mind, the plan for the Cup race is simple.
“You hope to just get experience and run all 400 miles and not do anything foolish,” Ryan said. “Hopefully, you get a good finish out of it and not make any mistakes. That’s the worst thing you can do as a rookie, make a huge mistake in your debut.”
A week ago at Talladega Superspeedway, Blaney made a huge mistake in the Nationwide Series race. Running side-by-side with leader Elliott Sadler, Blaney suddenly moved down the track, made contact and crashed into the wall.
As a result, he was toasted on social media and his NASCAR growing process, um, supplemented.
“I was trying to do too many things at once and unfortunately we messed up and that’s something hard to bear,” he said. “You never want to be the cause of that big event incident at a race track, especially at speedways. Unfortunately I was and I caught a lot of hate for it over social media and stuff like that.
“No matter how hard it was to put it behind you, I tried to forget about it. Monday, I finally put it behind me.”
This weekend is this weekend. It will begin for him Friday night in a series in which he has made very few mistakes since his debut 33 races ago. He is a two-time winner in a Camping World truck and has finished sixth at Daytona and fifth in Martinsville this year.
Then, if all goes well in qualifying, there will be the historic Cup debut and the intra-family grudge match that goes with it. Ryan and Dave Blaney, 51, would be the first father/son duo to compete in in the same Cup Series event since Bobby Hamilton Sr. and Jr. raced at Atlanta on Oct. 30, 2005.
“I think it would be really great,” Ryan said of Blaney vs. Blaney. “Just being part of that list would be really cool, of father/sons who have raced a Cup race together.
“We were able to run the truck race at Eldora together last year and that was a blast.”