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NASCAR Ditches “Ricky Bobby”, Welcomes Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney is but one of a fantastic crop of young new NASCAR drivers. [1]

Ryan Blaney is but one of a fantastic crop of young new NASCAR drivers.

One thing is guaranteed in life. We all will get older and nobody gets out alive. After that obvious, yet morose, pronouncement there is light at the end of the tunnel, no not that light, young racing drivers coming up through the ranks and Ryan Blaney is one of those.

He’s part of the new crop of drivers that is helping NASCAR ditch the “Ricky Bobby” image and it’s a refreshing place for the Daytona group to find itself.

It’s too soon to say he’s a superstar, he isn’t, but he looks as if he will be joining the talent pool of elites along with several of his alumni.

Ryan Blaney is one of a crop of young drivers in NASCAR whose Fathers were regular competitors, in this case Dave Blaney is his Father. Blaney, the Father often had flashes of brilliance, but his son, Ryan, looks to be capable of surpassing his achievements.

It doesn’t hurt that the young Blaney was on Roger Penske’s radar and is now in the Penske stable. Yes, he drives under the Woods Brothers banner, but make no mistake, this is a Penske effort all the way.

The Woods Brothers are the oldest team still actively competing in NASCAR and with a storied history as well. But like most of the older teams, they fell on hard times against competitors the size of Hendrick. Penske intends to change that.

Ryan Blaney is a Penske driver, with a Penske crew, a Penske crew chief in Jeremy Bullins, Penske engineers and cars built by Penske. It’s a Woods Brothers effort similar to Stewart Haas, but totally run by the Captain.

Blaney has shown that he has the talent to adapt quickly, drive with intelligence, admit his mistakes and not repeat them. His performance at Talladega should confirm that. He found himself at the front in the closing laps of one of the most unusual finishes in that race’s history. It remained single file for an excruciating amount of time. No doubt Blaney would have preferred to have it end like the countless films he watched.

Don't let his youth fool you. Ryan Blaney may become one of NASCAR's elite drivers. [2]

Don’t let his youth fool you. Ryan Blaney may become one of NASCAR’s elite drivers.

Blaney found himself having to depend on Denny Hamlin to make a move in the last few laps and he waited too late. That mistake aside, he’s presented himself as a driver who is more mature than his years.

He’s been racing since he was a child and ran his first Late Model race at age 15. His starts for Tommy Baldwin racing and Brad Keselowski in the truck series put him front and center of the eyes of Tim Cindric and Roger Penske.

He’s running a limited Cup schedule while he’s both being evaluated and sponsorship money is being pursued by Penske.

All outward appearances of his temporary tenure in the Woods Brothers car say that this is a research and development team. Blown motors at Daytona and Texas would indicate that this is the mule team for testing new components.

I would imagine that Blaney relishes this position as at his age learning all of the strange nuances of how these cars handle, what they can take and how much driver input is needed in assessing the components. Valuable information to have when you take that next step up to the varsity team.

Will Penske add a third car? Many believe that he won’t, given the success that he’s having with Keselowski and Logano. But what to do with Blaney?

No one really knows just yet, but he may very well, albeit slowly, bring the Woods Brothers car into a different position than R & D. Ford Motor Company could easily help add that third car to Penske’s stable. Why?

Get out. It’s the Woods Brothers.

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