Ford Performance NASCAR: Ryan Blaney Daytona Q&A Session

Ford Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Coke Zero 400 (Daytona International Speedway; Daytona Beach, FL)
Thursday, July 5, 2018

Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 BODYARMOR Ford Fusion, is 10th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings and ranks third in laps led with 463 going into Saturday’s race. He answered questions from the media before today’s first practice session at Daytona International Speedway.

SGT. MARCUS HAYWARD, BODYARMOR Heroes Winner – THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME AT A NASCAR RACE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? “It’s an honor to be here. I’m very thankful for Ryan and BODYARMOR for nominating me to come out. It’s awesome that they recognize heroes that served in the military and I just want to say thank you and I’m very appreciative of the whole thing.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 BODYARMOR Ford Fusion – THOUGHTS ABOUT MARCUS BEING HERE. “It’s just really cool to be part of this program with BODYARMOR. It’s the first year they’re doing this BODYARMOR Heroes thing and it’s really cool to have Marcus and his family out. I’m looking forward to getting to know him over the next couple of days and hopefully they’ll enjoy the races that are gonna go on here tomorrow night and Saturday, so it’s just cool. I think NASCAR does a great job of honoring military personnel and whenever we get to actually get to personally know them I feel like that’s a bonus. So I’m just happy to have them out and hopefully they’ll have fun.”

HOW BADASS DO YOU THINK MARCUS IS FOR EVERYTHING HE’S ACCOMPLISHED? “Very. I’m looking forward to getting to know him a little bit more. You look back and it’s easy to have a bad day over here and think it’s the end of the world, and then you meet people like Marcus who have served this country and done an amazing job and you realize it’s not so bad. It makes you appreciate a lot of things, but I’ve got nothing on Marcus. He’s a badass and I just drive for a living. I think you have a certificate in how badass you are.”

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT THIS WEEKEND TO BE WITH GUYS TRYING TO GET STAGE POINTS AND MAKE THE PLAYOFFS? “I think it’s your typical speedway, especially now that we’re getting down close to Playoff time and the cutoff the line is getting pretty close. There are people who really need to get stage points, stage wins and come down to the end of the race you really need a win. There are a lot of great cars outside looking in are really close right now, but everybody is gonna be trying really hard to win. These races are pretty insane and you never know what could happen. I’m pretty interested to see how these cars drive. We’ve got a little bit different spoiler on them than earlier this year, so we’ll see how they draft up and side draft and all that stuff. We’ll see if they’re a little different to drive. Honestly, these cars this year have kind of been treacherous to drive with the no ride height rule they’ve been really, really tough, so we’ll see if that kind of puts them back into the race track a little bit, but we’ll know here in a couple of hours.”

MARCUS HAYWARD CONTINUED – IS THIS HOT FOR YOU AFTER YOUR TOURS OF DUTY? “I’m from South Florida, so I’m about three hours south of here. This is an every day thing for me. I’m not too surprised by the heat.”

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED – WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE RACE LAST WEEK AND THE YOUNGER DRIVERS OUT THERE MAKING MOVES LIKE KYLE LARSON DID? “Kyle Larson has made those kind of moves his whole career. He makes amazing moves. I re-watched the race and that was a pretty amazing finish how it all played out, but Kyle is able to do that. He’s an amazing race car driver. Both of those guys are, but you’re talking about the younger guys. Larson has made those moves all the time and he’s able to drive a race car like nobody else that I’ve personally witnessed. Sometimes I get jealous, but, yeah, I feel like everyone’s ability is there. I feel like sometimes it’s confidence level and do you think you can do it? You know you can, but sometimes it’s hard to get over that hump of, ‘OK, I have the confidence to make this move and try to make it work out.’ I think Larson just has that. He has all the confidence in the world, as he should. Let’s say a young guy like Byron, he has all the talent in the world too, but does he have the confidence to do something like that? I don’t know. I think that’s just a personal thing, but that race was pretty exciting to watch. Hopefully, everyone liked it.”

AN ISC EXECUTIVE TODAY SAID THERE WAS A LACK OF STAR POWER AND THE YOUNG GUYS NEED TIME TO WIN AND BUILD THEIR BRAND. DO YOU FEEL ANY PRESSURE TO WIN JUST FOR THE SAKE OF THE SPORT? “Not really. Honestly, this whole young guys need to win now thing is getting old. We’re trying. We’re trying our hardest. It’s not like I go out there and I’m happy for fifth every single week. Any other guy under the age of 25 I’ll just say is the same way. It’s not a competition here between young guys and old guys, it’s a competition between 39 other cars and yourself. No matter what your age is or your experience level everyone is trying to accomplish the same goal. I think it would be healthy for the sport if we just see more variation in winners in general. There have been six winners this year. Come on now. You can’t just put that on the young guys for not winning. That’s a lot of other people that aren’t winning, too. Those guys who have been winning this year they deserve it. They’ve done a good job with their teams and they’re driving great right now and they deserve to be in the winner’s circle and we just got to get our stuff better. To answer your question, I don’t really feel pressure. We just try to get better every week and try to find ways to get in victory lane.”

DOES IT BOTHER YOU THE PRESIDENT OF ISC IS CITING THE NEED FOR STAR POWER AND HOPEFULLY THAT THE YOUNG GUYS WILL WIN? “I hope so. I hope we win. I don’t go out there and root for any other young guy to beat a veteran. I try to go win the race. I don’t care about anything else. I just worry about myself and my team and go and try to put our 12 car in victory lane. That’s really all I care about, but I think it would help the sport, like I said, about his comments that if there were more than six winners – and that’s no rules package that makes that happen. That’s not the rules package we’re in it just that these teams have found something that works really well for them and they’re doing a great job and they’re executing. You can’t be down about something like that. You just have to try to work harder and try to get your team to where it is. I just think more variation of winners would be good, but those guys are dominating. They’ve found something and good for them. They deserve it. They’ve worked hard enough to do it and we’ve got to work harder to be able to run with those guys.”

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED — SOME YOUNG DRIVERS COMING IN MAY BE AT A STAGE WHERE THEY CAN’T BE TAKING CRAZY CHANCES. “I think it’s back and forth. A younger driver that is maybe a rookie in the Cup Series this year shouldn’t come in, and maybe they’re nervous that they don’t want to make really bold moves and make mistakes and get pinned as that guy who kind of overdrives and wrecks a lot of stuff and things like that. But at the same time you have to do that. Honestly, that’s how Larson came into the Cup Series. Anything he’s been in he’s driven the hell out of it, wrecked or not he’s always proven he’s a great wheel man. I feel like everyone wants to do that, but it is tough when you’re coming in. You just don’t want to wreck cars and pinned a bad name. Sometimes I feel that way. You go through a couple races of wrecking or breaking and you’re almost a little cautious. You’re like, ‘I just want to finish one,’ but I just think it’s a little bit different and as you get more developed in this sport and get more experience maybe you can take a little bit more of those chances, but it is tough for a young rookie to come in and really go 150 percent just because you don’t want to wreck a lot of stuff in your first year. I think that kind of gets you a bad rap and nobody really wants that. You already have a great opportunity and you don’t want to spoil it by wrecking.”

THOUGHTS ON KENTUCKY NEXT WEEK AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NOT HAVING THE ALL-STAR AERO PACKAGE THERE? “I think it’s getting old but better. With any typical repave it takes a while for it to settle and the asphalt to age a little bit. That takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years and I think this is the third year we’re gonna race on it with the new pavement, so it’s gonna take a handful of more years to try and keep on getting wider. Am I disappointed not to see that aero package? Not really. I wasn’t really disappointed or excited that we weren’t running it. They said we weren’t gonna run it and that was the end of it. You just work on your normal race cars and figure it out. We’ll see how it is. I think that place is getting a little bit better each years, as it should, and hopefully it will get a little bit wider. I got some pictures sent to me and they were wearing that tire dragon out trying to get us some lanes over there, so hopefully that helps.”

AT WHAT POINT DO YOU HAVE TO BE MORE FOCUSSED ON POINTS TO ADVANCE TO THE PLAYOFFS? “I think we’ve done a really good job in getting stage points this year, whether that’s going and winning stages or just getting a lot of points in stages. Obviously, you want to get that Playoff point by winning a stage or winning the race, but that’s not really something we talk about going in. Honestly, we talk a little bit more about it at speedways just because the way you pit, you’re pitting with your team and it’s like, ‘If we pit in this window here, we can make it to the stage if it goes green.’ I’ve never really been too focused on the stage points. Yeah, you always want to run top 10 and if you do that’s great, it’s just a good bonus, but we have taken some chances of like, ‘OK, we’re gonna stay out here to win this stage,’ rather than pit with some other cars and that’s just kind of a game time decision by the crew chief. That’s kind of spur of the moment. We don’t sit there and decide, ‘OK, if a caution comes out here, we’re gonna stay out here and try to win this stage.’ It’s just a product of where you’re running if you can get enough points or if you think you can make it work on pit windows, if you can do it or not.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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