Tuesday, Dec 05

Ryan Blaney Texas Media Availability Transcript

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Mustang – YOU ARE MAKING YOUR 300TH START IN THE CUP SERIES, WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU TO MAKE IT THIS FAR IN YOUR CAREER AND WHAT HAS TEAM PENSKE GIVEN TO YOU THAT HAS ENRICHED YOUR CAREER? “It is hard to believe we are at 300 already. It seems like just yesterday we were at Kansas in 2014. It has been a fun ride and I have gotten to drive for a lot of great people, from Penske to the Wood Brothers family and a lot of paths crossed which has been really special. I definitely never would have thought I would be here. I did an interview with someone from NASCAR and they told me how many my dad had and I think that will be a more eye-opening day if I get to have more starts than my dad did. Penske has been … I owe them the world. I walked in their doors in 2012 and we are sitting here today. Like I said, great people and great opportunities and I am very fortunate to get those opportunities. I am lucky that we have found some decent success. It has definitely gone by very quickly, that is for sure.”


THIS IS A TROUBLESOME ROUND FOR SOME BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SAYING THAT YOU SHOULD THRIVE IN THIS PARTICULAR ROUND HERE AND TALLADEGA COMING UP. YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO NEXT WEEK AND THE WEEK AFTER WHERE IT COULD BE CHAOTIC? “Yeah it is. I think each round has certain tracks about them that make them unique. This round is definitely the more unique round with three very different race tracks with here and Talladega and then the Roval. I don't know. I don't think you can pick a guy that is a favorite at Talladega because you never know what can happen there. We had had good runs at Talladega but you never know what can happen. I think the best thing that we have talked about for that race is to try to control it like we have in the past and get a few of our cars up there and control the front of the pack. Hopefully you can maintain that. We kind of see it is difficult to go from the back to the front now at speedways so you try not to bury yourself. It starts off with a good run here and a race track where we have lacked a little speed on the mile-and-a-half tracks recently. We are coming here with some new stuff that hopefully will play out for us and kick the round off on the right foot. This was a wild race here last year and I don't think you will see as much tire issues this year but we will see. Just trying to take it one race at a time and hope that we find a little speed here and there, especially if you get to the Round of 8. If you get past this round you really have to perform at those three tracks in the Round of 8 but we gotta get there first.”


WHAT IS THE DYNAMIC AT PENSKE RIGHT NOW. NOBODY WOULD HAVE EXPECTED JOEY (LOGANO) TO BE OUT IN THE FIRST ROUND AND YOU BATTLING TO MAKE IT TO THE NEXT ROUND. HOW HAS THE ORGANIZATION RALLIED AROUND YOU TO CARRY THE TORCH? “It is a shame the 22 group got knocked out last week. Those guys just had an unfortunate situation happen and just barely missed it. I don't think anyone thought that the defending champs were going to get knocked out early. I think you try to make it as positive as you can in our group and maybe we can try some stuff for next year or try some stuff for these tracks in the Round of 8 if we can get there. I think we do a good job of teamwork at the Penske shop with the crews and drivers working together and looking toward the future. You just try to make the best of situations and hopefully we have a plan to do that.”


WILL YOU KNOW IF THERE WILL BE TIRE ISSUES AFTER THIS SHORT PRACTICE SESSION? “Yeah, I don't think you will have a good idea after practice because I feel like last year in the race it was more laps on tires. Some kind of heat cycles we saw that last year with guys with low air or aggressive cambers and they would run a little bit and kind of beat the tire up and almost crack them, like they cracked the sidewall and tread of them and when they cool off and heat back up they are damaged and then they had problems. I don't think in practice you will get a good idea. I know Goodyear came with a new durability tire and hopefully, it plays out. I don't think we have seen as much tire issues this year as last year, but this is a funky place. The ends being so different and three and four being so rough. If you are low in one and two you will be super low in three and four and you will be hitting the race track and pounding the tire and hitting limiters and stuff like that and it just kind of abuses them. I don't know if you will have a huge idea after practice but hopefully there is not as many issues as last year and if there is you hope you aren’t the one with the problems.”


YOU MENTIONED IT HAS BEEN A BIT OF A STRUGGLE FOR YOU GUYS ON THE INTERMEDIATE TRACKS, BUT HERE AT TEXAS, IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE SPEED IS THIS THE KIND OF TRACK YOU CAN WIN WITH A GOOD PIT STRATEGY? “You never know how this race plays out. It is a different mileage than years past. We have 400 miles here this weekend and you saw it last year a lot and in the past with a lot of different pit strategies, especially if you get that odd caution like 20 or 15 laps before the end of a stage. I think there are a lot of teams that are out of the playoffs that will flip it to get track position and that puts teams that are in the spot to get stage points that are in the playoffs in a tough spot. What do you chase? Do you chase points and try to rally back or chase a win and try to flip it? I think it depends on who you are racing and you try to judge. It is also what speed you have in your car and if you think you have a winning car that has the speed to win, if so you definitely flip and try to play for that. I think it depends on how cautions fall. You can have all the plans in place but they get thrown out the window really quickly and I feel like teams are really good at improvising and making calls on the fly. You just hope you hit it right. You never know exactly how you will hit it and you try to make the best call you can at the time. If it plays out for you or not, it is just kind of the way things go. You just hope it does play out for you well.”


IS THIS STILL A TRACK OR RACE, ESPECIALLY 400 MILES NOW, WHERE IF YOU QUALIFY 30TH YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO RECOVER? “Yeah, if you do qualify back there you would like to have the mindset that you can recover from it. It would be tough for sure, recovering from here, especially a place like this where it isn’t as wide as like Kansas where you have options. A lot of how you qualify today will eliminate or open up a lot of different opportunities for your strategy. It is super important to qualify well here. It just makes your race a lot easier and makes your start of the day way easier.”


IT DEFINITELY FEELS LIKE THIS SEASON THERE ISN’T REALLY A CLEAR-CUT CHAMPIONSHIP FAVORITE. IS THAT A FAIR STATEMENT TO MAKE? “Yeah, a little bit. I feel like there are a couple of teams that you realize they have run probably the best this year. I kind of look at the 24 group, the 5 group and the 19 group. They have probably been the three best drivers and teams this year. They kind of always have speed and the 5 was super impressive in the first round. Their speed was ridiculous and their average finish was like 2.5. They are running really good right now. But yeah, you try not to look at championship favorites. You try to understand the spot you are in and try to run well week in and week out. These cars are so finicky and someone can go on a run for a month and find something. I look at Roush and what they did, RFK, they found something and boom they were running right up front and winning races just like that. You just never know when things can it. it is hard. Your comment of not really having a championship favorite, I look at more the consistency of all year and how people run, but what RFK did, that can happen to anybody. You just hope that you do it at the right time.”


THE FORDS AS A WHOLE HAVE KIND OF STRUGGLED ALL YEAR BUT WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT YOU AND YOUR TEAM THAT YOU ARE STILL AROUND IN THE PLAYOFFS? “I feel like in the beginning of the year with the new nose we had at the Ford camp, it took everyone a while to kind of get used to it and figure out what we needed to do to optimize our aero balance. I feel like we had a good handle on it and we hit it in May at Charlotte and then RFK found the speed they did towards the end of the regular season was really impressive. It shows me that it is out there. You can find it. It is just a matter of getting everything perfect to be able to compete. I feel like our window of success is smaller than others as far as Chevy and Toyota. I feel like they have a bigger box of going into a weekend and maybe they are a little bit off but they are still competitive enough to run top-five and still work on it. I feel like our window has been a little smaller this year to where we have to be a little more perfect than everybody else to be able to compete. We can do it. It is there. You can definitely make it happen. It was a really good job by our group in the first round to not have any huge mistakes to take us out and being resilient. That goes a long way.”


YOU HAVE HAD A COUPLE OF PRETTY HARD LICKS THIS YEAR. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RECOVERY AFTER THE WRECK AT DAYTONA, THE WEEK FOLLOWING AND YOUR PROCESS? “Yeah, Nashville and Daytona were a couple of the hardest hits I have had in my career in anything. I would say the Nashville wreck, the recovery from that one was harder than Daytona because it was more kind of mental and head stuff going on. That was a tougher recovery period. Daytona I was just sore. I was super sore until about Friday morning before Darlington. It was nice that we had Sunday off. I never moved on Sunday. I got off the couch to go to the bathroom and that was about it. I tried to recover the best I could. I would much rather have body soreness than the mental fogginess that I had after Nashville. It is unfortunate, those races, but I am lucky I was still able to race the next week. That is the biggest thing. We were able to go to the track the next week and compete and that speaks a lot to what we do at our race shop for diver safety in the car and what NASCAR has done to push the safety forward in this car. Those things happen and they are unfortunate but I think the back end of it is you learn from them and try to be better as a sport. Whether it is the car, what we do at the race shop to try to get me safe. They are unfortunate things but I think positivity comes out of them.”


ONE FORECAST CALLS FOR THE TEMPERATURE TO FEEL LIKE 109 DEGREES HERE AT RACE TIME TOMORROW. AT WHAT POINT IS IT TOO HOT TO COMPETE AND WHAT PRECAUTIONS ARE YOU TAKING? “I don't know if it is too hot to compete. If you have people passing out I guess. When the temperature is that high, I worry more for people in the grandstands sitting out all day and stuff like that. That concerns me more than me being in the car. As drivers, we understand you are going to have days like this and hot race days and you just know that what you do and you rely on what you do as far as prep work, training and hydration and that stuff is going to work no matter if it is 110 or 50 degrees. I don't change up what I do and I have never had an issue too much. I think it is tougher for the people watching the race outside in the heat and a little more difficult for them. For me personally, I think it is just part of the job.”


PART OF THE JOB IS A UNIQUE DESCRIPTION. SITTING IN A CAR THAT WILL BE 125 OR 130 DEGREES, WHAT IS THAT LIKE? WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES? “Honestly it is just a day at the office and the heat is turned on or the AC is broken. It is just one of those things. It is one of those things where you don't think about it when you are racing. When it is green and you are running, you aren’t thinking about how hot it is or whatever. If you have a red flag and you are sitting there baking in an oven, then you are thinking about it. Or pre-race, you think about it being hot outside. But when you get in the car and in the mindset of competing, those things fade away and you focus on the job and just do your best. It is one of those things.”


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