In the Driver's Seat: Catching Up with NASCAR Driver Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney is a dynamic force in the thrilling world of NASCAR and a name that resonates with speed, skill, and passion for the sport.
Driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, Ryan was destined for a career in motorsports. From watching his dad, Dave Blaney, compete in the NASCAR Cup Series to watching his grandfather, Lou Blaney, become a modified dirt track legend, Ryan developed a desire for the drive at an early age. With a natural talent behind the wheel and a competitive spirit, Ryan has swiftly climbed the ranks, capturing the attention of fans and competitors alike.
His racing experience extends beyond the NASCAR Cup Series. Before following in his dad’s footsteps, Ryan made his debut in the world of stock car racing in 2011, competing in the ARCA Menards Series West. He quickly made a name for himself, earning victories in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Now in his eighth full-time NASCAR Cup Series season, Ryan has established himself as a force to be reckoned with. He has visited Victory Lane eight times, winning first at Pocono Raceway in 2017 and most recently in the 2023 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Pennzoil sat down with Ryan to discuss his biggest inspiration in motorsports, how being a member of Team Penske has driven him to new levels of success, and his relationship with Pennzoil.
PENNZOIL: You started winning quarter midget races at age nine. What inspired you to get into motorsports so young?
BLANEY: I used to watch my dad race growing up, and I fell in love with racing very early on. I would say that he’s my biggest influence and the one who inspired me and pushed me to get into driving as a kid.
PENNZOIL: You are a third-generation driver. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from either your dad or grandfather?
BLANEY: The best piece of advice I’ve gotten is that you have to be open to change. Cars change all the time, and you need to change the way you approach each race weekend. Even your driving style. That was something my dad told me at a young age that stuck with me.
PENNZOIL: Do you have any pre-race rituals?
BLANEY: I’d say the only thing that is routine ahead of a race is making sure I have a good lunch or dinner. One ritual that I have is that I put my right glove on before my left, but that’s just kind of a force of habit. There’s nothing superstitious about it!
Title: VROOM OR SWERVE
Description: Ever wonder what game Team Penske drivers Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Scott McLaughlin and Austin Cindric play when they’re in a room together? Now you don’t have to.
[Pennzoil logo with presents written underneath]
[Screen] [In vision] AUSTIN CINDRIC
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Hi everybody, my name is Austin Cindric. We’re playing a game today with my three favorite Pennzoil Team Penske drivers.
[Screen] [In vision] JOEY LOGANO
[Screen] [In vision] SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN
[Screen] [In vision] RYAN BLANEY
AUSTIN CINDRIC: It’s called Vroom or Swerve.
[Screen] VROOM OR SWERVE
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Green is vroom, means yes, I agree.
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Red, swerve, that’s no, I do not relate to this.
[Screen] FIRST QUESTION
AUSTIN CINDRIC: First question. Have you ever crashed your personal car?
[Screen] QUESTION #1: Have you ever crashed your personal car?
JOEY LOGANO: Does a company car count as a personal car?
[Screen] RIP JOEY’S COMPANY CAR
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I mean, it’s your personal A to B car.
[Screen] QUESTION #2: Have you ever cut your own hair?
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Have you ever cut your own hair?
JOEY LOGANO: We know one thing. Blaney shaved his face today because he looks like 19.
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Good looking guy.
RYAN BLANEY: Per usual.
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: Penske guy.
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Hell of a chin.
RYAN BLANEY: Thank you.
[Screen] QUESTION #3: Does Pennzoil have unbeatable engine protection?
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Does Pennzoil have unbeatable engine protection?
RYAN BLANEY: They do.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, can’t beat it. Why do you ask us questions that we all know the answer to?
[Screen] QUESTION #4: Have you ever seen “Talladega Nights”?
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Have you ever seen “Talladega Nights”? And did you like it?
AUSTIN CINDRIC: You didn’t like it?
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: No, I don’t like it.
AUSTIN CINDRIC: I love it.
RYAN BLANEY: I think it’s a great movie.
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: I swerved, respect my decision.
[Screen] QUESTION #5: Have you ever worn a matching outfit with a significant other?
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Have you ever worn a matching outfit with a significant other?
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: Christmas Eve. PJs.
[SCREEN] Image of Scott in matching PJs
[Screen] QUESTION #6: Are waffles better than pancakes?
AUSTIN CINDRIC: Next question. Are waffles better than pancakes?
JOEY LOGANO: Waffles are way better than pancakes.
RYAN BLANEY: Depends where you get them from.
JOEY LOGANO: I like the crust a little crunchy. Crunch.
RYAN BLANEY: Go both.
AUSTIN CINDRIC: You can’t vroom and swerve.
RYAN BLANEY: If you’re vrooming, you’re going to eventually swerve.
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, you can’t vroom and swerve, it’s like drifting.
[SCREEN] Graphic of Scott drifting
AUSTIN CINDRIC: And that’ll be it for Vroom or Swerve.
PENNZOIL: What is your favorite thing to do after a win?
BLANEY: My favorite thing to do is going to see all the folks on my team in victory lane. That is one of the best parts because during the race you are by yourself for hours, and then you get to see them and get to celebrate the work they did outside of the car as well. That makes a win even sweeter.
PENNZOIL: Throughout your career, have you noticed any changes in your driving style?
BLANEY: Yes, I feel like you have to! As you get more experience, you get a little bit smarter about how you approach things. When you’re younger and ‘greener’ to the sport, you have a heavy right foot, and you don’t really think about anything else except for going fast. As you get older and more experienced, you kind of think through the race a little bit more and try to be more strategic about things.
RYAN BLANEY DRIVES THE NO. 12 FORD MUSTANG IN THE NASCAR CUP SERIES
PENNZOIL: Do you have a favorite track in the NASCAR Cup Series? If so, which one and why?
BLANEY: I love Martinsville. I grew up in High Point, North Carolina which isn’t too far from there, so I went there twice a year to watch my dad race since it was so close. I really enjoy going there, it brings back a lot of good memories. It also never hurts to race in front of a hometown crowd!
PENNZOIL: Are there any drivers who have influenced or inspired you?
BLANEY: Obviously, my dad was a huge influence, but I grew up enjoying watching Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Jeff Gordon. I was fortunate enough to race with a lot of those guys so that was even cooler.
PENNZOIL: As a member of Team Penske, what role does teamwork play in your success as a driver?
BLANEY: I think we do a good job, within the Team Penske group, of relying on each other and being good teammates. Between me, Joey Logano, Austin Cindric, and our crew chiefs, we are able to lean on each other and achieve great things season after season. I think that’s what makes you a team, the ability to trust and lean on each other. What’s the point of having three cars on one team if you’re not going to utilize each other or make yourself better? The open communication we all have is great, and that really plays a role in my success.
PENNZOIL: You have competed in several racing series. What do you see as the biggest difference between all of them? Do you have a favorite?
BLANEY: I think the competition is tough no matter what series you’re in. Whether it’s quarter midgets, late models, or NASCAR. I feel like the NASCAR Cup Series is the most competitive and the most different. You have drivers here that have been driving for a long time and are extremely skilled at what they do. It’s super hard to win. I love the competition, so NASCAR is definitely my favorite.
PENNZOIL: If you had to go on a road trip with your teammates, who would you trust to navigate, to DJ, to bring the snacks, or is there someone you would trust to do all three?
BLANEY: Let’s see. I feel like I’m pretty solid at bringing the snacks. I feel like Austin [Cindric] has weird taste in music, so I can’t see him being the DJ. I would sit in the passenger seat, bring the snacks, and be the DJ, and Joey [Logano] can navigate. Joey can also drive, that’s fine with me. Austin can sit in the back and not do anything.
PENNZOIL: You are a Star Wars fan and according to your Twitter bio, an aspiring Jedi. If you could have any Star Wars character as a member of your pit crew, who would you choose?
BLANEY: Probably a stormtrooper. I guess I’d choose all stormtroopers because they’re all in the same uniform, so that helps!
PENNZOIL: In what ways has working with Pennzoil contributed to the development of your racing career?
BLANEY: The Pennzoil sponsorship has been amazing. Ever since they came on board over a decade ago, they’ve been crucial to the success of the drivers and all of Team Penske. We can tell them exactly what we need to make our cars perform the best on the track, and they always give us the product that we need to help protect our engines and keep us on top. It’s a great working collaboration.
PENNZOIL: How does the new campaign from Pennzoil, “Long May We Drive” resonate with you?
BLANEY: “Long May We Drive” definitely hits home for me. It’s all about the love of the drive and pursuing exciting miles, which I definitely bring to my driving.
PENNZOIL: What has been your favorite moment or highlight of your career so far?
BLANEY: I think winning the Coca-Cola 600 earlier this year was great. That was such a cool experience. Obviously, winning a ‘crown jewel’ race like that is neat and to do it with a great group of guys is even better. To have my family there was the cherry on top.
RYAN BLANEY CELEBRATES HIS WIN AT THE 2023 COCA-COLA 600
PENNZOIL: What advice would you give to aspiring racecar drivers who are looking to pursue a career in motorsports?
BLANEY: I think the biggest thing that’s a little harder to come by nowadays that was constantly reinforced when I started, is that you have to give respect to get respect. I see a lot of younger kids now that are starting out that don’t really give a lot of respect but then expect to get it in return right away. I think people don’t realize how much that means if you give respect – especially when you’re coming into the series – that goes a long way with team owners, other drivers, and team members on your team or others. Being respectful of everyone and keeping yourself humble is going to help you out throughout your career and make you a driver that everyone wants to work with.