Sunday, Oct 01

Ford Performance - Ryan Blaney Bristol Transcript

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang – YOU DID THE TIRE TEST AT BRISTOL, SO DO YOU FEEL MORE CONFIDENT AFTER WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU LAST YEAR? “I hope so. I didn’t blow a tire at the tire test, so that’s good. We went through a lot of different sets, compounds, builds, all that different stuff and I feel like it’s kind of tough there to run because there were only three of us, so we never get off the bottom. That’s kind of tough to get a good feel for where the race is gonna go, but I feel better about it. I feel like what we learned there last year with our issues, kind of team issues, I blew a right-front. The 21 did. I think the 2 blew a right-front too, so hopefully we learned from those and going back and not having any mistakes.”


DID YOU HAVE ANY STEERING ISSUES AT BRISTOL? “I know there were some power-steering issues that happened last year. I, fortunately, didn’t have any problems at the test. I don’t think any of the three cars did and hopefully we got a little better idea of the power-steering stuff this year. I feel like you haven’t seen as many problems with it. Teams have kind of refined it a little bit, but you don’t want that issue there. I had the power-steering go out there about five years ago and that’s no fun. Hopefully, you don’t see any problems. I think everyone’s gotten a little better at it.”


DENNY HAMLIN SAID EVERYONE FROM BLANEY DOWN IS IN THE DANGER ZONE AT BRISTOL. DO YOU FEEL THAT WAY? “We’re 25 points to the good. Twenty-five points can go away just like that if you have an issue early in the race. I feel like you can never really be too safe. I wouldn’t consider myself in the danger zone. I would say you can have problems and you’re gonna be in a little bit of a situation. I think what he meant by that was you don’t have any cushion if you make a mistake early in the race and have a mechanical issue or a wreck or something like that early. You don’t have as many points in the bank to ensure yourself into the next round, kind of like we did last year. We had tons of points to the cut line going into this race last year and we had a problem and we were able to be fine with it because we had a lot of points in the bank. This year we don’t have as many. I definitely would prefer to be 25 points to the good than only a handful of points to the good because you never know what could happen. You’ve just got to go try to run a good race and run the whole race and see where you end up.”


HAVE THE RESTARTS GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL WITH GUYS LAYING BACK AND WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE LAST RESTART AT KANSAS? “Yeah. I mean, I know I personally got probably the worst restart of my career the last restart of the Kansas race and it was even worse looking when I went back and watched the last restart of how far back I was, but it was super odd. I don’t know what happened. Everything got stacked and then separated really quick and I’m trying to catch up to the 24 and it stacked and it got spread out super quick right before the restart zone and then the 99 went really early and just didn’t give anyone time to catch up, so I don’t know exactly who started it or what. All I know is that we were just super behind. No one was packed up when the pace car pulled off or even before that, and I couldn’t really tell how far the 24 was away from the guy in front of him because I’m up the 24’s bumper and then he speeds up and by the time I catch up I’m already 10 car lengths behind the restart, so I feel like in other series their cars, short tracks, they’ll throw a yellow if they think the leader went early, if the restart was jumbled, if someone is laying back. If you’re not gonna give penalties, do you just reset and do another restart? Do you give that guy a warning or you just penalize him right away, so there are certain series that do it different ways. I feel like they just have to really stay on the restarts and start penalizing people if they’re doing that stuff. NASCAR reminds us all the time, but we saw it be pretty ridiculous at Kansas and nothing has been done about it, so until you start slapping wrists everybody is gonna keep doing it.”


HOW TOUGH DOES IT GET AS YOU GET INTO THESE PLAYOFF RACES AND WHAT DO DRIVERS DO TO GAIN AN EDGE? “The whole 10 weeks is super tough. Obviously, as you get further and further in the rounds it gets even harder. You can’t really make any mistakes. They are more costly just because you are racing less teams. Usually the people who have advanced, the bonus points get pretty jumbled up at that point, seeing where everyone is at and what they start the playoffs with and usually if you get down to the Round of 8 and you don’t have a lot of playoff points, you probably have to win one of those three to get in. It is tough, but everyone approaches it differently. I really wish I would have approached it differently last year. I thought we had a good shot to make Phoenix and I made a couple mistakes there in the Round of 8 and cost us, but it definitely gets intense as you whittle teams out and that’s what makes it exciting. That’s what makes it an exciting 10 weeks and seeing who can be perfect and not make mistakes and who also has the speed to run up front and contend for wins and run up towards the front of the pack the whole race for stage points and stuff. It is wild. Hopefully, we can put it all together here and get to Phoenix. It’s gonna be a tall task for us, but I believe we can get it done. We just have to keep doing our thing and find a little bit here and there and have the driver do his job.”


THE ROVAL RULES ARE CHANGING WITH THE RESTART ZONE LOCATION AND STAGE BREAKS. YOUR THOUGHTS? “The restart zone change, we’re actually running the chicane, like the normal track. I think that’s probably good. It’s kind of a weird spot, for sure. I think it’s even kind of a little bit more odd than Indy was – the restart spot – just because that’s such a tight, slow corner, but hopefully that keeps guys from overdriving one like we’ve seen a lot on restarts. You’re going so much faster at the old restart zone that it’s hard to judge your braking spot, so hopefully that kind of cleans that up a little bit. As far as the stage cautions go, I didn’t really have an opinion on it either way. It just kind of was what it was before when they did away with it and now it’s back to what we’ve been doing for a while, so I didn’t really mind. It obviously jumbles up the field a little bit more. You have guys that maybe aren’t as fast they run in the back and choose to go for stage points and that kind of gives them a chance, and the guys who think they can win the race they pit, so it does jumble it up. You can’t ever please everybody. I feel like there are a lot of people wanting to do away with stage cautions, so we did. And then a lot of people that wanted them done away with saw a lot of green flag racing at Watkins Glen and Indy and then wanted them back and didn’t like that it went so long. I give NASCAR props for trying it and whatever decision they made I didn’t have any huge comments about it or any feelings either way.”


WON’T IT BE STRANGE RESTARTING WHERE IT’S GOING TO BE AT THE ROVAL? “Yeah, it’s hard to tell. I do think it’s gonna be a little bit trickier at the Roval, kind of where that restart zone is at, especially the guys – I mean it seems like if you’re in row three or four on back you’re gonna be entering that chicane by the time the leader goes, so it’s gonna be a little weird. It’s the same for everybody. I thought it was different than Indy. At Indy I feel like it was the sixth or seventh row on back was still in 13 when the leader went, so that’s a super tight left-hander, so you get a big gap on those rows. Here, I think it will be a little similar, but it will be more of a gap in each row. I think the second row might be able to stay with the leaders, but then the third row there’s gonna be a gap and then kind of the same gap to the fourth row and fifth row on back because everyone is gonna be trying to get through the chicane. I don’t really know, but it is gonna be weird though, going in there for the start of the race and the restarts being that way. It’s gonna take everyone a little bit to get used to and then what do you prefer? Do you prefer to give up a row maybe because it’s better to restart maybe a little bit further back or forward? That’s just something we’re gonna play with and watch in the Xfinity race to see how those guys handle it.”


WHAT IS THE COMPETITION DYNAMIC LIKE AT A PLACE LIKE TEAM PENSKE WHEN YOU’RE COMPETING AGAINST YOUR TEAMMATES? “That’s what’s so interesting about our sport compared to other team sports. I get asked that question a lot by fans at meet-and-greets and stuff like that of how that dynamic works and I usually explain it as we all race for the same owner under one hat. We all race for Roger and we want Team Penske to be successful as a whole. All of the men and women working there, he wants to do well for them and what’s good for the whole organization and at the same time you want to do the best you can for your individual team. You want to win. You want to be the guy who is providing the wins and the championships for your guys and you bringing that to all the men and women back at the race shop and everybody involved at Team Penske. So, it is kind of odd. Sometimes you have to think about the greater good of the entire team, and I feel like we do that at our organization very well of working with each other on the track and off the track. The team dynamic is solid. Us working together at speedways – me, Joey and Austin – we’re really good at that and I think it’s shown in some races before of what is best for the whole organization. That’s our goal, but, like I said, it’s weird. I mean, sometimes your ego you want to be the guy. You want to be the winning guy and sometimes you have to think of the greater good, so it is odd. I mean, we’re still competitors. Me and Joey and Austin are fierce competitors, but you also help out each other and give information and try to make the whole team run well. At the same time, you’re worried about yourself, so it’s helping your team and your teammates, but not just rolling over for them. You also want to do well for the team. It’s really strange and it’s hard to explain, but I think we make it work fairly decently. I know that was a jumbled up answer for you, but hopefully I got some points there.”


HOW DOES IT CHANGE IN THE PLAYOFFS? “I feel like in the playoffs it’s different because every little point matters. Every position matters. Every stage point. Every finishing point. All of that stuff matters, so I feel like some breaks that you might give to a teammate during a race, you possibly don’t give them as many breaks. If you’re coming down to the end of the stage, 15 laps to go, and you and your teammate are racing for a stage point, you’re probably gonna race them pretty hard because you both are going for that point. I think that’s understood and expected because you’re trying to do well for yourself, so it does change a little bit in the playoffs. I don’t think the information is any different between the teams and drivers. I feel like we all still do that, but we probably race each other a little bit harder for every point because I think that’s what matters and that’s understood.”


WHAT’S IT LIKE WHEN YOU HEAR A DRIVER SAY HE WANTS TO BE RELEVANT? HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN THAT POSITION? “I think every driver that’s what they want to be is you want to be relevant in your sport. I feel like that’s anybody. No matter what you do, you want to be relevant. You want to make a difference and you want to do well. That’s every single person. That just goes back to wanting to do well for your owners and your team. I think that’s what the being relevant part is, you want to do well in your sport. It’s not just a racing thing. That’s a life thing. No matter what sport or job you do, you want to be relevant and you want to succeed.”


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