THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by tonight's winner of the All-Star Race, Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Ford for Team Penske. I'm going to ask you what everybody in this room is thinking. You just won a million dollars; what are you going to do with it?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, I don't know. I don't really spend a lot of money, so probably put it in the bank or put it towards retirement fund. I don't know. But we'll see. I might buy a new set of tires or a new motor for dad's Sprint car team. That's what I'll probably do. I'm sure that's what he wants me to do. He's got this brand new motor that he wants.
Just a really fun night, really fast race car, and we were up there in position to win the race, and we were able to do that.
Q. The other elephant in the room is the last restart. Obviously I'm guessing you think you had won because it looked like you took the window net down. Walk us through that. What's going on? Is your spotter or anyone else walking you through it?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, so coming off of 4, I guess caution came out, 300 feet or so before the line, and none of us knew that you had to see the checkered flag, I guess. I don't know, I think we just got locked in our heads of the leader takes the white flag, the next flag ends the race. I guess that wasn't the case. But we all thought it. I thought it. Josh said we won. Jonathan got on the radio and said congrats. So I got to the backstretch and I took the window net down. Then Josh told me off of 4, they're saying that the race isn't over, and you need to end under green.
Yeah, I think that caught all of us off guard, and so it was kind of short-lived panic mode in my spot of like how the hell am I going to get this window net back up because it almost takes two people to do it outside the car, let alone me and my scrawny arms inside the car sitting down and not being able to get a lot of leverage on it.
I could get millimeters away from latching it and I had to give up. My shoulders are going to be junk in the morning. I was able to get it latched finally enough to where it was up and sealed, and NASCAR deemed it safe.
Yeah, very, very odd, wild, but luckily it worked out for us that the best car ended up winning the race.
Q. So NASCAR did let you know that the window net was good and you were cleared for the final restart?
RYAN BLANEY: They deemed it safe on the backstretch coming to the green because it was up and latched, and I had two hands on the wheel, and that was their call.
Q. When you restart in that moment after you've gone through all that you had gone through, are you like, man, I just can't lose this race or are you thinking, I'm going to go through this and still lose this race?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, I mean, I had to switch mindsets up really quickly, kind of a few different mindsets from thinking you win the race to, no, you've got to go through another restart to, uh-oh, my window net is down, how am I going to get this up. The whole caution I spent trying to get that thing latched up.
You know, I didn't finally get it -- I finally got it on the frontstretch with the chews, and I had less than a lap to do it.
Q. If you had not gotten it latched, would you have made them black flag you or would you have thought I can't race like that and would you have come down pit road voluntarily?
RYAN BLANEY: I wasn't going to pit.
Q. How grueling was that mentally knowing that you let the window net down and then you hear that the race wasn't over, thinking that you had just secured a million bucks?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, I mean, it's a lot of change and emotion. My whole goal after I found that out was just how am I going to get this window net back up and what can I do to do it.
You know, that was my main mindset for however many laps we ran under caution. I was up in the middle of the racetrack and not even paying attention to my tires or cleaning them up or nothing. I was just trying to get that thing latched, and then finally got it and had like half a lap to clean my stuff up and finally get back into race mode and restart mode of, okay, you've got to switch your mindset up, you've got to hit this restart and hold the 11 and 2 off and win the race.
So you didn't have a lot of time to kind of get your head, get my head in the right mindset, but luckily was able to get it close enough to the right mindset to get a good restart and get a good push from the 2 and get up in front of the 11 and hold them off. Yeah, definitely don't want to go through all those different mindsets again. That was grueling. Luckily it worked out for us.
Q. Also, after the race, Denny said, fail on NASCAR's part basically for not black flagging you because people make mistakes and it's cost them wins in the past. Your thoughts on that? And he posted something on Twitter.
RYAN BLANEY: I'm sure he posted on Twitter right away, and I mean, I'd be upset, too, if I was in his position. You're running second and the guy makes a mistake and puts the window net down, and you expect it to be handed to you and the leader get black flagged.
I can understand his frustration for sure, but obviously I'm not going to say I'm frustrated about it. It worked out for us. We had the best car all night. We were leading the race three seconds before the last caution.
But I can understand where he's coming from. But that's just a product of running second compared to winning. He would be over the moon elated in my position if he won the race and I'd be ticked off just like he was if he was second, so just kind of depends on the spot, so can't blame him.
Q. With this win, just describe the dynamic of you and Jonathan so far this season. Of course in the regular campaign you racked up a lot of points in terms of consistency, but what does it mean to get this win and a million dollars for him and the organization?
RYAN BLANEY: It's awesome. It's something that we've been -- obviously not a points race, but we've been really close to winning races all year and I feel like we've had good speed and we've been working really hard to do it. To get our first win together as driver and crew chief, it's really cool and really special. It's neat. I feel like we came to the track this weekend with kind of a little bit different mindset in how we approached things with our race car and setup, and I felt like it had great potential. I felt like our car was really fast all night.
A lot of positives leading out of this. A lot of momentum going back to Charlotte, and a lot of things to build off of. I'm just proud of the effort. Like I said, our car was really fast all weekend, and it showed tonight.
Q. You kind of mentioned it, but when you had that overtime restart, how much were you telling yourself, I am not going to lose this now? What was that like? What was that motivation you had immediately to switch on and be like, I am not going to lose this at this point?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, it was tough to do. Kind of switching gears of, okay, now it's back to the job that you've been doing all night, and having a good restart and getting through 1 and 2 right. I didn't get through 1 and 2 very good either to be honest because I kind of didn't -- my tires weren't really that cleaned up because I was riding in the middle lane the whole time looking at my window net trying to get it up.
Yeah, that was tough to kind of switch gears, but I feel like I've been able to do that clearly easily. That's cutting it a little bit too close for my liking on timing on switching mindsets and gears and kind of forgetting things and moving on to the next thing. I tried to do that quickly, but I don't want to ever have to do it that quickly again.
Yeah, you just tell yourself, try to do everything you can all night and have the 2 -- he gave me a good push and tried to time that really well. I knew if I could get clear off of 2, I had a good shot at it, so yeah, definitely a tough one, but yeah, it was nice we were able to work it out and get a good restart and drive off into the sunset there.
Q. Did you have it up enough that you felt safe on the final two laps?
RYAN BLANEY: I felt perfectly safe.
Q. In any sort of weird way, did the window net deal potentially distract you from the anger that the race was still being continued?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, a little bit. I was angry for about three seconds when they said the race wasn't over yet, and then it switched to, oh, s--- my window net is down and I've got another problem I've got to deal with. I felt like that did kind of take my head away from getting upset that the race wasn't over, but I would have rather not had the window net issue and just dealt with, man, I've got to get another restart, honestly, because we do that stuff all the time. The window net deal, that's a pretty -- that never happens.
Q. I've seen 18 years of Victory Lane celebrations, and I don't know that I've seen someone quite as excited to get to fire off the six-shooters as you. Tell me a little bit about that moment because I know for a lot of guys they live to fire off the six-shooters.
RYAN BLANEY: I mean, I've been wanting to do that ever since I was a little boy watching Dad race here, watching guys win the race here. I've seen the pictures of them shooting those guns, hearing them shoot guns after the race when we were in the bus with my dad changing. I've wanted those guns ever since I was a little kid. I got a repeater rifle here when I won the pole in 2018, and that's my favorite gun that I own.
I wanted those six-shooters so badly and finally got them. I'm excited. I couldn't stop asking those guys, when are you going to mail them to me. I'm going to probably look at holsters when I get home, walk around like a cowboy in my hat with my six-shooters on my side. I know what I'm going to be for Halloween, that's for sure.
I've just wanted those ever since I was a little boy, and that's really cool to be able to get them.
Q. You've had a lot of races get away from you. How does this feel that this one almost got away from you and you were able to seal the deal?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, that went through my mind, also, of my gosh, we've got this thing in the bag, I'm just riding around the last 15 laps, cruising along, car is super fast, and just thinking, okay, when is the caution, when is the problem going to happen, what's going to happen now that we lose the race. So it's nice that -- I wouldn't say gone smoothly for us, but we were able to persevere and come out on top and win the race like I felt like we should have. There's been a lot of races where I felt like we should have won because we had the car and our guys did a really good job and deserved to win.
There's some races I felt like, okay, maybe we didn't have a fast enough car to win, but things went our way, but it was nice that tonight we had a really fast car and we did everything almost right and was able to be able to come out with the victory even through kind of some adversity. That was something I'm really proud of those guys for, so they did a good job of keeping their head, also.
Q. What momentum does this give you going into the 600?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, it's definitely great momentum. Like I said, we kind of came here unloading with a little bit different approach to what we normally do week in and week out with car setup stuff, and I thought it was very positive. We were very fast all weekend. That gives you confidence that hey, your car was really fast.
Obviously winning the race is great, but I take away our car was really fast, we made big gains on the speed side of it to where I feel like we've lacked a little bit here the last month. I'm very proud of that, and Charlotte has its similarities to here a little bit, so there's some things we can really carry over to this, so I'm very proud of the effort and the gains that we made from a speed perspective, and it shows.
Winning is just a bonus. Looking forward to Charlotte next week and hopefully keep building and keep finding speed in your cars.
Q. This All-Star win, how does it compare to the other seven Cup wins or any of the other national series? Where does it rank?
RYAN BLANEY: I'm going to say it's the most unique one, but I've been a part of a couple unique ones. This is oddly unique. I'm never going to forget this one because it wasn't like, hey, we had the race won, caution came out, we had a great restart and won the race. No, we had that whole deal going on.
So definitely going to remember that one. I wouldn't say it's as special as my first win or something like that, but it's definitely up there. Something to remember. I'm going to have to try to frame that window net and put it over my mantle on my fireplace or something. Be kind of cool. But very unique night.