Ryan Blaney Races His Way Into First Daytona 500 with Wood Brothers

Thursday, Feb 19 3783

The Blaney name will live on in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Veteran racer Dave Blaney is all but done with racing in NASCAR’s top-tier division, but his son is just getting started.

Ryan Blaney, 20, will run 18 races in the Cup Series this year with the legendary Wood Brothers Racing. Driving the No. 21 car, pressure is escalating for the son of the “Buckeye Bullet.” Besides competing for the Wood Brothers, he will also race for Team Penske in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for the majority of the season.

But before he steps foot in a Team Penske car for the fourth straight season, the young Blaney is set to race in NASCAR’s biggest race – the Daytona 500.

During the twin Budweiser Duel 150 qualifiers, pressure was on for the majority of the field to earn a spot in the “500.” NASCAR’s oldest team continued to show they are still worth while on Thursday evening in the second Duel.

Racing inside of the top 10 throughout the 60-lap event, Blaney was able to earn a starting position in the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career. Finishing in seventh place, the North Carolina native is set to embark on the beginning of his new journey.

“We were really smooth on pit road the one time we came down and that’s all we can really ask for is to try to control the things we control – no mistakes on pit road, and everything else is kind of up in the air,” Blaney said following the race. “You never know if you’re gonna get caught up in a wreck. Luckily, we were ahead of those incidents tonight and didn’t get caught up in a wreck like some other guys did, and just fortunate to be in the spot we were at. 

“There were a couple opportunities I really, really wanted to drive hard and go for a win and we had opportunities to do that, but, like I said, the main point was to transfer tonight and that’s what we did.  Everyone did a great job and it’s just cool to be with the Wood Brothers and say we’re racing Sunday.  I try not to get too worked up before races and I try to play it cool before I sat in the car and then you get nervous turning pace laps.” 

Starting 12th in the Daytona 500, he has high expectations. His predecessor, Trevor Bayne, was victorious in his Daytona 500 debut with the Wood Brothers in 2011.

This year, the Wood Brothers have begun an alliance with Team Penske. Previously, it had a partnership with Roush Fenway Racing. But following Bayne’s move to Roush full-time this season, it has swapped over to the organization that has put Blaney’s name on the map. 

Joseph Wolkin

Joseph Wolkin (@JosephNASCAR) is a sophomore at the Queensborough Community College as an English major. He’s a native of Whitestone, NY, just outside of New York City, and has been attempting to find roots of motorsports within his area since 2004. He started out as just a fan, but over the course of his high school career, he ended up falling in love with writing.

Joseph has been covering NASCAR since 2011 for several different websites. Recently, he was named as one of two lead NASCAR columnists for Rant Sports after working for the site for over one year. Working with Rant Sports for approximately 14 months, Joseph has covered New York City area sports teams such as the New York Giants, New York Mets, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and more.

Through his passion is for NASCAR, Joseph has adapted to changing times and realizes that he has numerous opportunities in the journalism work. As one of the top young sports writers, his goal is to become one of the top motorsports writers of this new digital media era. However, he also believes that it’s important to stick to the traditional routers of print publications after seeing his high school newspaper dissolve due to a lack of funding.

Currently, besides his duties with Speedway Digest, Joseph is a columnist with Fronstretch.com, Motorsport.com and has a weekly article in NASCAR Pole Position's digital version - ROAR! Weekly Race Preview Magazine.