Ryan Blaney Wins NASCAR Cup Series Championship As Ford Sweeps All Three Titles

NKP #12: Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Mustang, Championship Portraits


  • Ryan Blaney won his first NASCAR Cup Series championship today at Phoenix Raceway.
  • It’s also the second straight championship for Mustang after Joey Logano won the title last year.
  • Blaney’s title completes a weekend that saw Ford win all three major NASCAR touring championships for the first time in its history.
  • It also marks the first time an OEM has won all three titles in the same season since 2001, and the sixth time that has happened in NASCAR history.
  • The Cup championship is the fourth for team owner Roger Penske
  • Ford has won the Cup Series championship 11 times by nine different drivers.


2nd – Ryan Blaney

5th – Chris Buescher

7th – Kevin Harvick

9th – Michael McDowell

13th – Aric Almirola

14th – Ryan Preece

15th – Brad Keselowski

18th – Joey Logano

24th – Chase Briscoe

26th – Harrison Burton

27th – JJ Yeley

30th – Todd GIlliland

34th – Ryan Newman

35th – Austin Cindric


HOW MUCH OF THE STORY OF THIS 12 TEAM THIS YEAR IS ABOUT NEVER GIVING UP AND OVERCOMING ADVERSITY? “Yeah, I think we did an amazing job on that. It was somewhat of an up and down year, but you’re gonna have those moments and through the summer we just worked really hard to get back to where we needed to be and set a deadline for the playoffs and we met that deadline. I’m just super proud of the effort by everybody at Team Penske who put in tons and tons of hours of hard work and nobody really got down. They just put their heads down and decided to really put in a lot of work and it showed up, especially these playoffs and especially the last five weeks. It’s so cool to have all of their hard work pay off, so they should be proud.”

WHAT ABOUT YOUR DAD. HOW MUCH HAS FAMILY MEANT TO YOU? “It’s been everything. Obviously, I come from a family of racers – my grandfather and dad and uncle. Dad is obviously who I grew up watching and admiring and wanted to be like, so to be able to do what he did because as a kid I just wanted to do what dad did, so to be able to race and let alone compete for wins and championships and still have my parents around and people that you look up to that are still around it makes it even more special.”

HOW ABOUT THE JOB JONATHAN HASSLER DID FOR THIS TEAM? “He’s been amazing. It’s been a fun two years. We had a shot to get here last year and I made some mistakes that kept us out, so we worked really hard in the winter to try to get back to where we know we can be and he’s such a dedicated hard worker. Every single person on this 12 group is, from the pit crew to the mechanics and truck drivers. Everyone has a part in it and they work their asses off, so it’s cool to see all that stuff pay off. It’s fun to work with Jonathan and hopefully we can get some more.”

HOW ABOUT ROGER PENSKE. WHAT HAS HE MEANT TO YOUR CAREER? “It’s been amazing. It’s been over 10 years when I walked through the doors of that place. It’s hard to believe. It’s gone by so fast. I was telling everybody all week that having the opportunity to go back-to-back Cup champions for Mr. Penske hasn’t been done. He hasn’t done that and it’s not very often you get to do something in motorsports that RP hasn’t done because he’s done everything and accomplished everything, so to be able to be a part of this and bring him another championship and be a driver that’s brought him a championship is very special, so it’s been a fun decade and hopefully another fun decade ahead.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Harvick Ford Mustang – WHAT ARE YOUR EMOTIONS? “It’s kind of a relief, to be honest with you. There was just so much going on before the race and this week, but it was pretty cool to lead some laps there in the last race. I’m just proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, everybody that works on this car and has worked on this car for a long time. I’ve just got to thank all the fans and NASCAR and my family and everybody for all of the support. It’s been a great ride and I can’t complain.”

WHEN YOU TOOK THE LEAD COULD YOU HEAR THE ROAR OF THE CROWD? THEY WERE ON THEIR FEET. “I figured. The fans have been great wishing us well to do the best that we can on the racetrack. It’s been an up and down year, but we’ve had some good runs and we were at least competitive. We didn’t ride around in the back, so that’s the main thing – just doing all that we can do.”

WHAT DO YOU FEEL? “Relief now. The emotions are kind of over at this particular point. This was a tough week with everything going on and lots to do. I think, for me, it’s been a great ride, so I don’t have anything to complain about. I’m just happy that we got to this point and kind of closed the book on our own.”

IT LOOKED LIKE YOU MIGHT WIN. “Yeah, as the sun went down we kept getting tighter in the corner and then we lost a few spots on a pit stop and the cars are so even you couldn’t really make it back up, but we just got a little bit too tight. We were OK. We were right in the middle of where we needed to be, but just on the wrong side of that front group.”

HOW DO YOU WALK OUT OF THIS TRACK? “This whole year has been incredible with the fans and the garage and everybody for all the support. We wanted to tell a story for 30 years and I think we did a pretty good job with that.”

YOU SAID TO KEELAN, ‘WHAT NOW?’ WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THE CAR. WHAT NOW? “Yeah. Everything is already in place with everything that we have going on with television and businesses and Keelan’s racing and school. We’ve got so many things in motion with the next couple of years with plans and what we want to do, so we’re gonna go back to work. I do already have calls next week with the folks from Fox and starting to work on end of the year things for what we want to do there, but I still think the responsibility is just as big to go up there and try to give the fans as much information as possible and do a good job for Fox and everybody with this sport to tell the best story that we can. We have a lot of great drivers, a lot of great personalities and I hope everybody gets to see that.”

YOU’RE LEAVING ON YOUR OWN TERMS WHILE STILL COMPETITIVE. WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR OTHER THAN A WIN OR TITLE? “It really hasn’t been about wins or losses, but you never want to flop around, so to be able to lead laps in the last race kind of tells you how competitive we still are and I think with some tweaks and adjustments to some of the things at Stewart-Haas, you could go right back out there and be where you need to be with everything that we have going on. Josh is gonna do a great job. I can’t wait to see Josh drive this car around. Busch is still in this sport. Mobil is still in this sport. It gave everybody time to do and evaluate what they wanted to do and that’s really what I wanted. I wanted to leave here and be able to look at all you guys, look at the fans, walk in the TV booth and walk into any trailer in that garage, whether it’s a driver, a crew chief, NASCAR, whoever it is, and be able to end on good terms and I think we did that.”

CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang – “I wish we would have been in the Championship 4 because we certainly had a shot at it here today. We drove forward. The first run we needed about 20 laps and after that we needed about five laps and after that we fired off good, so we had a good short and long run speed Fastenal Ford Mustang. I’ve never had that much fun here at Phoenix and I surely appreciate all those guys and girls’ hard work to get us to that point. That was fun. It was a great race. We got behind on one pit stop and then I think we had something happen at the end. It felt like we dropped a cylinder or something to the point we weren’t 100 percent. To still battle and come home fifth was a fantastic race for us. I’m super proud of everybody on this team. What a fantastic year. I would have loved to been in that Championship 4 because I think we would have had a real shot at this thing today. It’s a huge accomplishment for this season and I can’t wait until next year.”

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang – “It’s a frustrating way to end the season. Obviously, I wish we could have had a better run. This has statistically been our best track and I thought we were gonna be OK. We were able to drive up to 12th and had a restart there where I kind of got drove through and lost all of our track position and from there could literally never get it back. That was aggravating to say the least, but we’ll try to come back next year better and stronger and I’m already looking forward to it.”


MARK RUSHBROOK, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports – ARE YOU SHOCKED WINNING ALL THREE? “This is NASCAR and all three national series are so competitive and you’ve got to be on your game for every element of the program, whether it’s the engine, the chassis, the setup, the aero, the driver, the pit crew – everything has to be right. Yeah, we did struggle for sure, especially in Cup early on certain style tracks, but all of our racing teams worked together. Nobody gave up and kept digging and certainly came on strong, especially with Team Penske and the 12 car through the playoffs. We had some strength with RFK through the season. We’ve had seasons where we’ve won a lot of races and not won a championship and that’s been a disappointment. We didn’t win as many races as we would have liked to this year, but to win three championships just makes a statement about the team we have at Ford Performance and the partnership and the family that we have racing our cars and trucks on track, so I’m really proud of what everybody has done.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED BY THE END RESULT? “Well, I said this week in some of the interviews during the week as we were unveiling our new car and people were asking about the championship and you want to always have at least one driver in the Championship 4 for every series. You’d like to have more and we had one driver in and I knew we had a good shot with all of those drivers and teams, but so much happens during the race, especially Friday night. Things could have gone in any direction, but Ryan was so strong today that he was driving to the front on every run and he was racing hard against everybody. He certainly earned the championship today.”

WHEN THE PLAYOFFS STARTED YOUR GROUP GOT WHITTLED DOWN. WHAT HAVE THESE LAST 10 WEEKS BEEN LIKE? “We entered in Cup with more drivers than Chevy and Toyota to start, but then we lost more in the first round going from 16 to 12 and we were on the other side of it, but that is what makes this playoff format exciting are those cutoffs where every three races you’re cutting out four of the drivers and you’ve got to peak at the right time and have the right finishes at the right time. It certainly, especially for the 12 car and Team Penske, they came on strong winning at Talladega and then really strong again at Miami-Homestead and then winning at Martinsville and strong here again today.”

WAS THIS ONE OF THE TOUGHEST SEASONS FOR FORD WITH THE EARLY STRUGGLES? “I feel like we work so hard every year. Everyone does. That’s what NASCAR racing is, but when you do have struggles early in the season it does make you at some level dig deeper and work harder. It stresses relationships for sure, but ultimately you come back together as family and partners and get through it.”

WHAT CAN YOU CHALK THIS SUCCESS UP TO? “We’ve increased the emphasis on our program every single year and certainly with the relevance we were really big at pushing for the Next Gen car back in the early days when it was first being talked about – the relevance and everything, which made it even more important for us to be successful with it, so we were working hard, obviously, on the Next Gen car before we were ever racing it, and not just on the body but also making sure we understood what the common chassis was, running it in our simulator, so really understanding it is what it takes to be successful.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO WIN WITH MUSTANG IN CUP AND CAN YOU MARKET THIS INTERNATIONALLY? “Winning is everything for us, just as a point of pride. It’s certainly going to be a celebration in Dearborn. My phone has been blowing up with Ford family members and our senior executives already so excited about it, so it means a lot internally to the customer because motorsports is so important to us. But that is the basis for a successful marketing program is success on the racetrack, so you have to win races and you have to win championships to have that credibility and for fans to engage with your brand and want to make them proud to have a Ford parked in their driveway or their garage. And for us, NASCAR, even though we’re racing a Mustang, we certainly sell Mustangs because of it, but we sell more F-150s to NASCAR fans than we do Mustangs. But this is a proof point for them. As far as the international question, Mustang is our global sports car. It is the best-selling sports car in the world and when we took the decision back in 2015 to have Mustang go global that was an important decision for us to be able to have that, and now with the commitment of our company for the seventh generation Mustang and to have that continue to be selling globally as a road car, but we’re racing it globally, not just in NASCAR and NHRA, but in Australia SuperCars, Mustang GT3, Mustang GT4, Dark Horse R with the spec challenge. We take the benefits from any Mustang success and market it globally. It helps all of our Mustang racing programs be more successful.”

WHAT HAS KEVIN HARVICK MEANT TO FORD? “We love Kevin Harvick. That was a big part of bringing Stewart-Haas to Ford was knowing that Kevin Harvick was there. It’s a weird moment. I was talking to Delana on pit road before the race and asking her how she felt and, for her, it was like suddenly the day is here. You know it’s coming and we feel the same way. We’ve known that Kevin was going to retire for quite some time and suddenly here we are in Phoenix and he had a great race. He was running up front as he usually does in Phoenix and he’s meant a lot to our program. He’s won 25 Cup races with us in just seven years of racing with us and we’re certainly going to miss him. He’s done a lot for us in terms of extra stuff away from the track that we’re really going to miss.”

IT’S BEEN SINCE 2001 AN OEM HAS WON ALL THREE TITLES. WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE DRIVERS WHO WILL REPRESENT THESE SERIES AND FORD AS CHAMPIONS? “As much as we’re a car company and we make and sell cars and trucks and we’re out here racing them, we’re also a family company, a people company and it’s all about the people that are racing these cars inside the shop and ultimately the drivers that get it done on track. Those three drivers that we had win this weekend to win a championship, to have Ben Rhodes, Cole Custer and Ryan Blaney as champions for this sport and representing our brand, we’re really proud of what they’ve done. I knew they all could do it and really glad to see them as champions.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE IN TERMS OF DRIVERS GOING FORWARD AND A POTENTIAL YOUNG DRIVER BASE GOING FORWARD? “It’s the future of the sport. We’ve always got to be planning for that future, whether it’s from an engineering perspective, a team perspective, but certainly the drivers and there’s a lot of youth right now and that is important for the future of this sport, not just with having them be successful on track, but building those drivers to have a brand to engage with fans and keep the sport healthy with fans in the stands. Ryan Blaney, for us, is somebody that certainly developed. He’s got his own brand, his own person, and we love him for who he is and proud that he’s representing our brand.”

DO YOU OFFICIALLY NAME THIS FORD CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND NOW? “I’ve heard a few people saying that. We had a lot of pride in Ford Championship Weekend in Miami-Homestead for a long run and unofficially I guess we could call this Ford Championship Weekend.”

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