Ford Performance NASCAR: Daytona 500 Media Day (Ryan Blaney)

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Ford Mustang 

WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT, IS THERE A CERTAIN KIND OF TRACK THAT YOU WANT TO SEE ON THE SCHEDULE IN THE FUTURE? “I think there are a  couple tracks that have come up over the past couple of years that I wish we could go to. The Nashville thing was unfortunate that it hasn’t gotten any more traction than it has. I know a lot of people wanted that. One or two more road courses I thought would be pretty neat. People talk about street courses and things like that. That is tough. There are plenty of really great road courses out there. Some of the tracks like short tracks, that is a given. You have to think realistically of what a NASCAR race can  hold. If you go to South Boston, it is a great race track but you would have to do a lot of work to hold the NASCAR fan base there for a Cup race. It can be done, but can it be done for next year? I don’t think so. It might be years down the road. I wish the Nashville Fairgrounds would have happened. That was a really exciting one and a good fan base. I wouldn’t count that one out yet though.”

DOES YOUR SPOTTER HAVE TO BE PERFECT HERE? “Yeah. They have to be pretty on it. They are talking and sometimes they will talk for two laps straight. It is just the way it is and the way the runs are now with how big they are. You can’t have any mistakes. People make mistakes and you see what happened on Sunday. We wrecked a lot of stuff. Some of it was that and some of it was people having flat tires and not getting off the race track. Spotters are a big deal here. You have to really trust your spotter. At the end of the day we work really hard with our spotters up there on the roof to communicate well and get your own language and you work on that constantly. It is great to be a part of the Clash because you get to knock the rust off there a little bit, both for us and those guys up there. Yeah, they are a huge part of it. I would say they are bigger here than anywhere else.”

DO YOU LIKE THEM TO TALK FOR TWO LAPS STRAIGHT? “I want as much information as I can get. As much information as I can process. If things are going on, then talk all you want. If there is nothing going on and runs have kind of died down or we are just training up top, then there is not much said on the radio. Yeah, when we are three-wide or you are trying to build runs and see what is behind you to make moves, it is a constant key up of the mic on their end. I think if you ask any driver, more information is way better than too little information here.”

YOU HAVE BEEN VERY CLOSE AT THIS RACE THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS BUT CIRCUMSTANCES HAVE NOT WORKED IN YOUR FAVOR AT THE END. HOW TOUGH IS IT TO PUT THAT ENDING TOGETHER HERE? IS THERE ANY SENSE OF FEELING OR HOPING THAT THIS ISN’T ONE THAT GETS AWAY FROM YOU? “I don’t think so. We have had a couple decent runs here but honestly it is almost a luck of the draw type deal for if you are going to get to the end or not. We ran second here once and led a bunch of laps in 18 but you never know what can happen. We got tore up in this race with 10 to go last year, just being part of the mess and getting plowed into it. It is a really big toss up of the hat. Especially now. I feel like the leader can’t control the race as well as they used to. We have talked about that last year with this package, it is really hard to control the race. I think it will be even more of a difficult thing to find yourself in the right spot th is year. But, I think our car has been pretty decent and we are just trying to find ourselves to where you get to the end of the race and have a shot at it. You want to get towards the end and see the front and have a shot at the win. That is all you can ask for when you come to these.”

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes

NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Page 2

DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY 

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED … 

DO YOU FEEL LIKE AN ORGANIZATION LIKE PENSKE, WHO HAS REALLY GOOD SPEEDWAY CARS, DOES THIS PACKAGE LESSEN THAT A LITTLE BIT? “Yeah. You used to be able to see a dominant car for the day that could get out front and block lanes and lead. Penske was a big part of that. I feel like when Brad and Joey won all those speedway races a handful of years ago we had great speedway cars. We still do, but it is so hard to block lanes. Runs are so big and there is no air bubble anymore. It is tougher to find a dominant car out there. There were a couple cars I saw in the Clash that were really fast but if they got to the front I don’t know if they could have held it because runs are so big. We will find out on Sunday, but it is harder to control a race.”

ANY OF THE STRATEGY FROM THE CLASH TRANSFER OVER TO SUNDAY? YOU WERE DOING A LOT OF FUEL ECONOMY STUFF: “I was interested in what the Chevy guys were doing. They had their own plan, just let we had our own plan. That is just the way the caution fell in that race. People thinking they could make it and stretch it. I didn’t think that was going to work out. We ran those guys down two-second a lap cause they had to save so much. If it would have went green I think they would have had to pit again. You always see different strategies. Manufactures pitting with manufactures, tire strategy, things like that. It kind of depends on how your car is driving. If it is really hot on Sunday and the car is handling like crap, you will want tires to be able to be aggressive and make moves. I feel like this package, it is more of a handful underneath you. They don’t handle nearly as good. It is usually pretty warm come race time and the track gets pretty slick. A lot of it will be contributed to the first run and how your can handles. There will be a lot of that.”

HAS THERE BEEN ANYTHING DIFFERENT AROUND THE SHOP SINCE ROGER BOUGHT INDYCAR? “Not at our race shop. I know they have a lot of plans for the speedway, which is really neat. Not only the road course race that they are doing there with the XFINITY guys but I think Roger has a good amount of plans for the race track in general for all different kinds of racing. Around our shop, really nothing has changed. It is really neat that Roger owns that place. It just puts more pressure on us to try to win there. Not that there wasn’t any already. Nothing really changed. Just excited to get there and excited for the future of that place and what he has in store.”

YOU WERE AT NEW SMYRNA THE OTHER NIGHT, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE TO SEE SUCH A HUGE CROWD AS NASCAR TRIES TO GET BACK TO ITS GRASS ROOTS? “It was packed. I drove in there about 6:30, an hour before the race and I couldn’t find a parking spot. I had to make my own. I had a nasty letter on my windshield afterwards. I deserved that. It was great. It really makes you feel good to see a crowd like that for that K&N race. I went out to Volusia Saturday night and it was the same, packed. More than I have ever seen it. The racing community is alive and well, especially at short tracks and our races too. The infield is probably more crowded than what I have seen early on in the week. Seeing New Smyrna and Volusia packed like that in the infield and the grandstands definitely makes you feel good and know that people really like the grass roots stuff and they put on a good show. That is good.”

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes

NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Page 3

DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY 

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED … 

WHAT IS THE ONE THING NASCAR CAN DO TO TRY TO RECONNECT WITH THOSE FANS TO BRING THEM TO OUR LEVEL HERE? “Just increase their experience. Maybe we can venture out to newer tracks, short tracks, renovate them. Things like that. Just make an experience for the fan. I wish tracks would lower ticket prices. I think hotels around here, which I know isn’t all NASCAR things, but it is tough for a family of five to come out here for a weekend and buy all the tickets. Hotels I think are the most outrageous things around race weekend. Saying that, I do think the tracks and NASCAR have helped on the ticket packages for kids and families, which is good. Just doing more of that. Make it a little more accommodating to the fan. I think we are already doing a lot better job of that. I have been in the Cup deal for five years and have seen a lot of improvements and heard comments from fans that say it is better and they are improving the experience and that it is  more affordable. I Think we are trending in the right direction.”

DOES GOING TO EVENTS LIKE THAT MAKE YOU APPRECIATE WHAT YOU DO? “Yeah, for sure. I grew up doing that stuff. I was a short track asphalt and late model guy and did that for a long time. Just like going home, really. It is neat to see it. You go back to these places you used to race at as a kid and now you are an adult. They haven’t really changed much and it is cool to look back on them. You see someone doing a certain thing out there on the track and you remember doing that, or a certain line they are running, it is cool to get it from another perspective. I like to go to as many as I can, whether it is dirt of asphalt. You are a race fan. We are all racers and we are race fans as well. you want to see as many as you can.”

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN TO ELEVATE YOU TO WINNING MULTIPLE RACES A YEAR? “I think just getting smarter as the race goes on. I think that is something that has hurt me and something that I have struggled with, maybe not thinking far enough ahead of how the track is going and changing things to be better at the end of a race. I think that is where the best guys can do that. Kyle (Busch) and Harvick, those guys are really smart at figuring out what the track is doing really early, what their car is doing, and what they need it to do for the end. A lot of races we fire off really well and then don’t end the race like we fired off. That is what I am talking about, the ability to pinpoint where you think things are going and get ahead of it. If you are finally figuring out halfway through the last run, that is obviously too late. That is the biggest thing that me, personally, can do. I am excited to work with Todd Gordon. It has been really great so far. Maybe you think of things that you didn’t before because it wasn’t normal to you. It opens your mind a little bit to other areas you need to improve on.”

WHAT HAS HE OPENED YOUR MIND TO? “I worked with Jeremy Bullins since 2012 when I got to Penske from Xfinity to Cup and when you work with someone that long, you kind of get your own language going. When you work with someone new, they have their own vocabulary and maybe ask about the car differently. It is just a little different demeanor. I am different from Joey and we are both different from Brad. When you get someone new, it changes things up and then you start thinking about things different and we focus more on those things and also focus on what I know from the past. It opens you up when you work with different people. You take what you learned from the previous experience and you are learning new things. It just gives you a bigger bandwidth for knowledge, which is good.”

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes

NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Page 4

DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY 

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED … 

WHAT HAS BEEN JIMMIE JOHNSON’S BIGGEST IMPACT ON THE SPORT? “Seven championships. I mean, it is neat. I grew up watching Jimmie and I was in late models when he was winning five in a row. As a kid, how could you not be a fan of that guy and how humble he is. It has been a pleasure to race with him the last handful of years. It has been a lot of fun. I got chewed out by him last year, which was great. I look back on that and it is a fond memory of mine. I will never forget that. It is a good memory because we got over it the next week. You never see that side of Jimmie. It is unfortunate that I had to be the one to bring that side out in him. I remember standing at driver intros with my dad when I was a kid and Jimmie was standing there and now I am standing at driver intros with him. I am lucky enough to become friends with him over the years. It has actually made me pretty upset the last couple of years that people have been saying negative things about him. He has had a rough couple of years from what he is used to and people are saying he is washed up and things like that. That actually pisses me off. You see that a lot with great athletes as they get further on in their careers. People forget the great things they have done and just focus on the here and now. It is going to be weird not racing with Jimmie because I love racing with him. I don’t think people realize how good he really is until he isn’t around it anymore. You will look back and be like, ‘Man, we were experiencing a legend.’ I don’t think people give him enough credit and that is unfortunate. I talked to him right before the Clash and it was cool. He is ready to go for his final year of full time racing and it will be a lot of fun to be able to be a part of it. I have been able to be a part of Jeff’s and Tony’s. It is cool to be able to be here.”

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