NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney arrived in Southern California for Saturday’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum poised to start the momentum toward a second title after an offseason filled with new experiences, plenty of championship feting and most importantly, an engagement.
Blaney, who turned 30 on New Year’s Eve, got engaged to his long-time girlfriend Gianna Tulio in December—big life events for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series champion whose spent the months since he won the title happily serving as NASCAR’s competitive ambassador. Blaney has made media appearances in all the big markets, sat courtside at high profile NBA games and received a whole new level of recognition everywhere he’s been.
Of the new profile, Blaney insists the best part is the good vibes generated by his No. 12 Penske Racing Ford team.
“It’s nice to walk around, you’re like, ‘Man, I feel like I’ve done something really nice for the whole company and organization, for RP (team owner Roger Penske) and everyone working there,’ “ Blaney said Saturday from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“I don’t want to say you feel validated in being there, because everyone always believes in you, but it’s just like a personal confidence-booster. It’s nice to feel part of that champion group that’s won for RP, so it personally makes you feel a little bit better and a little bit more certified in being there and racing for the cause each week.”
One of the most personally rewarding things, Blaney concedes, is seeing the words “NASCAR Cup Series Champion” on his 2024 driver’s suit.
“That meant a lot—it did mean a ton,’’ Blaney said. “It was one of those things that was like a month removed from all those celebrations and it’s in the new year, but you see that—you get the trophy, you get the Goodyear car, you get the ring and then once the banquet is done that stuff is over.
“You’ve got all of that stuff, but then it’s a nice little refresher for the new year when you pull out the fire suit from the bag and you see the champion logo beneath the NASCAR logo.
“That part was nice. You look at that every morning, at least I will on race day. You look at it and it’s one of those little things you notice. It’s kind of a nice little reminder.”
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