Roger Penske and Ryan Blaney Championship Week Transcripts

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
Championship Week | Thursday, November 30, 2023

ROGER PENSKE, Owner, No. 12 Menards Ford Mustang – WHEN DID YOU SEE THE TURNAROUND IN RYAN? “It’s been a long journey for him. I think as we see all the teams and drivers that come up through the business, remember it was 2012 when his dad came into our motorhome at Richmond and we talked. Here’s this young guy with lots of passion and wanted to be a champion. We bought into his package at that point and he won with Brad in trucks. He won in our Xfinity early on in 2013, so we saw that he knew how to be a winner. I think that’s one of the first things we try to do is can you be a winner? And then you’ve got to jell in with the team and I think as he moved on his career with our technical partner, the Wood Brothers, he became a driver for them. I think when we really saw his capability was in 2017 when he won the race at Pocono. Racing, it’s ironic, racing Harvick who is retiring now and Blaney is the champion, but that really showed us that he had the mettle to be a winner, and then as we moved on he was fast. We had pit stop problems. We had speeding in the pits. All of those things that happen and I think as we started with the support of Joey and everyone else on the team and then Hassler coming on board in 2022 – now think about it, Hassler started with us in 2008 as a performance engineer 15 years ago, so it wasn’t he just showed up on the scene. We’ve used the Wood Brothers as a real farm team for us to work with our people, so Ryan came through that and, of course, he and Jonathan got together. In ‘22 we had speed. He won the All-Star Race that year, so we saw that he had that capability, but coming into ‘23, I know everybody has talked about how we kind of looked at we didn’t really have any speed at the beginning. I think we were learning about the car and it took us some time, but the effort that we always do at the end of the season for the championship is build new cars with all the things that we learned through the season and I think that Hassler, along with Jeremy Bullins, certainly Paul Wolfe and Brian Wilson, the chiefs all got together as we got into that last eight and they really put their shoulder against this car and I think we just knew that he was a champion. His persona, the fans liked him. I think one of the things that I said to him was the biggest thing that you did in winning this championship is your reputation in the garage area with the other teams and the other drivers, and I think that he raced fair. I know there are comments that at one point Kyle Petty made some comments that he was Kasey Kahne or something and wasn’t a champion, but putting together those last races in the last six was amazing and then the proof of the pudding, really, was racing Kyle Larson – forget everything else – racing Kyle Larson those last 20-25 laps and being able to win the championship. Nobody gave it to him. The stops we had, we had good stops. They weren’t quite as quick as the other guys because I told him you can’t win this championship coming from the back on a speeding penalty, so we were a little slower coming in and out, but I think the stops were good enough and he was able to come up through the field, which was amazing. So, I think it was a journey that he was on starting back a decade ago as a young guy. I think everyone has to understand that. It takes time. Again, with our team, I said it before, that team on the 12 car – 11-and-a-half years of experience with our company. When you look at the entire Team Penske, 44 percent of our people have been there over 10 years, so it’s that domain knowledge which makes a difference and I think his connection with the people, the support and I think the partnership that he has with Joey, that took time, and with Brad. It took time for those guys to really say, ‘Hey, we can help each other.’ But it’s amazing how they worked off each other for the last year or so. It’s a long answer to your question, but it’s a journey.”

DID YOU EVER THINK YOU WOULD WIN BACK-TO-BACK TITLES, ESPECIALLY IN A YEAR WHERE IT SEEMED FORD WAS LAGGING BEHIND? “You win one and you hope you can win it because you start all over again. They don’t give you an extra lap ahead of everybody after you win one, so, obviously, Joey did a great job and, by the way, when you think about it – last year at Phoenix if you watched Ryan, he was a good wingman. He had a fast car at Phoenix and we knew that he had the speed, but I would say that it took us a while and with Ford engineering and certainly with Yates and the motor side we came prepared and we got better through the season. I think we understood the car better and certainly it turned out. We were always competitive on the big tracks – Atlanta and the high-speed tracks – but it was the downforce tracks that we weren’t there, but, again, once we got to Phoenix I think we had a package that was very competitive and obviously, for me personally, to think about two in a row. I was looking at some stats from our people. In the last six years, we’ve won 148 races and 12 championships, so when you think about the total Team Penske effort, it’s been amazing. I can’t even look back because I don’t know how we ever did it, but it’s a credit to all of the people who are in our organization, that have been there and put in so much effort and time in.”

ARE THESE ACCOMPLISHMENTS SWEETER AS YOU GET OLDER? “Well, it makes it tougher to do more because you set a standard. The expectations, I mean it’s no different than Hendrick and Gibbs and maybe ourselves in that group at the moment, but the expectations are you’ve got to be a winner. We don’t really want to finish second and we want to win, and I think that the commitment – Mike Nelson, who is our NASCAR program leader, and Travis Geisler, 40 years of experience between the two of them at Team Penske – so we’re all in the same boat. We go out there to win. We try to hire the people and one thing is we fill the funnel from the bottom and not from the top, so all of the people today that are successful and made us successful, just like Blaney came in at the bottom and I think we’ve got to continue to do that and that will keep us very sharp at the top with the best people.”

WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOU GET OUT OF LARSON DOING THE INDY 500 FOR INDYCAR? “It’s a great question. We are so excited to see Larson come to the speedway. I know Rick talked to me about running Larson and we hadn’t had the success for a couple years and I said, ‘Look for us to take on a fourth car, ‘ and then of course McLaren did and we just applauded that all the way along, and I think that his skill and his fan base in the midwest is amazing, and he went out there and did his rookie test – bang, bang bang. Kurt Busch has run there. Think about the other people who have come from Formula One – Jimmy Clark, Graham Hill and other people like Nigel Mansell have been successful. I think that he comes with a tremendous amount of talent and it’s something that he wants to do. It’s interesting. Blaney said to me at some point over the last several weeks that he would like to go to Indy. I was like, ‘Whoa, slow down a little bit.’ We’re good to have everybody come to Indy, but if we can have the double and really play up Memorial Day at both Charlotte and Indianapolis it’ll be great. The interest from the fan base with him coming, we can see it already in our ticket sales. He’ll be a great asset to Indianapolis and the 500.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW MEDIA RIGHTS DEAL ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY? “I think there’s a time period going on where people are moving from linear TV and certainly network television and, believe me, if NBC and FOX and the other partners didn’t believe that there was value in what they put together, NASCAR wouldn’t have gotten $7.7 billion, so I have to go along with the experts on that. To me, it’s a great move. I think putting a package together today in this environment is amazing and getting more people interested will give us even more capability. I think from a sponsor standpoint, we’ve been able to attract sponsors because of the existing television package. It was obviously not all on network, and I think we’re just gonna have to see how that all plays out. I can’t tell you, but the money that was committed behind the streaming and those types of non-linear TV has been amazing, so it’s gonna work and I think we’re seeing people today looking at it – their timeframe when they can look at an event and all of this will play out and how they can take that content and spread it not just on race weekend, but they can spread it across the next week and even go back in the archives with it, so I think it’s gonna be great.”

IS THAT AS MUCH A MODEL AS YOU GO INTO WITH YOUR OWN DEAL WITH INDYCAR? “As you know, we come up in 2025. Today we’re in discussions and we have a great media partner in NBC and we expect to be talking. Other people have come to us. I think NASCAR, it was great to see that with the CW and obviously with ESPN and Formula One, so we hope we can draft in behind them.”

WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON MOTORSPORTS AND THE SWITCH TO SUSTAINABLE ENERGY. HOW DO YOU SEE THAT PLAYING OUT IN THE NEXT 2-5 YEARS? “As you know, sustainability is a key word that everybody is using. I think it really started when you looked at the investment world. People didn’t want to invest in companies that didn’t have a sustainability program. We certainly understand that from an IndyCar perspective. We’re using our renewables from our fuel. NASCAR is moving in that direction. I think the hybrid formula seems to be something that will make a lot of sense as we go forward because you’ve even seen electrification kind of slow down here lately, and I think more hybrid is more of a bridging strategy to the future, so I think that we have that responsibility, certainly as we look at the Indianapolis track. We want to be carbon free at some point. I didn’t put a date, 2030 or 2040, but the things that we’re doing there, all of us are looking at that. I know that as NASCAR gets into their facilities and as we go forward we have to think about that. What are we using? What kind of paper? What are the things we’re using at the track? We have a partnership with Waste Management, in fact, to help us to make sure that we’re dealing in that, so it’s top of mind. Do I have the playbook for NASCAR? I could say no, but I know that they’re involved in it. We certainly are. When you think about all the trucks and trailers that go to IndyCar races are using renewable diesel – everyone is – so we’ve put that in this past year. I think that we’re cognizant of our responsibility as individuals and as Americans to make it a better place.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE COMPETITION SIDE OF THINGS AND OTHER FUELS LIKE HYDROGEN? “Well, hydrogen, I guess Toyota has been the leader. They’ve not only talked about it, but we’ve seen some hydrogen cars. There was a hydrogen car at Le Mans, I think, last year that was run by the French. I’m not sure who the organization was, but I think that’s an opportunity. We’ve looked at it in our truck fleets. We’ve run some just to test the units, but it’s gonna be a long time before we see that in competition, at least in where we see it today. I think you’re gonna have some modified different engines and you’ll have some hybrids that will start to lean towards sustainability.”

DO YOU SEE EV’S IN NASCAR COMPETITION AND HOW DO YOU HANDLE TRADITION FANS? “I think you can have a series as you see Formula E is obviously a fully EV series, but I think that there will be, I would say, a hybrid, which we can have some electrical component of the drivetrain along with a nice engine. I think that’s what we’re gonna see and that will be the bridging strategy for, I think, the next several years here. I don’t see it overnight, but you could have maybe a sedan series, where they could run fully electric vehicles, but I think first engine manufacturers or the OEMs are now dealing with their own strategies of trying to develop this EV marketplace, which is slower than they expected. I think the public relations got out ahead of it. We have an issue of the reliability of the charging network. The infrastructure is not there. Range anxiety, so all of these things. Remember at Formula E they had to come in and get in another car. Well, if we had to bring two cars to a NASCAR race, I’m not sure that would be what we want to do right now if we’re trying to look at cost, but I think in the future I would hope that we’d have some part of that, and I think the hybrid version could be very good.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards Ford Mustang – HAS THE LAST MONTH MADE UP FOR NOT MEETING MARK HAMILL? “Yeah, maybe a little bit, but I’m still jealous. I’m still working on the firesuit from Bubba, so we’ll see where that goes. I struck out on the helmet. I tried really hard. The helmet was off the table, so the next-best thing I’ll take the firesuit hopefully. Hopefully, I can get something.”

WHAT ABOUT TYLER REDDICK? “I haven’t asked him yet. Maybe. It would be cool to have one of each, but I’ve got to work on one before I the other one first. Its gonna kill my self confidence if I strike out if I go 0-for-2, so I need to try to get one first and then I’ll try for the other one.”

ROGER SAID YOU’VE ASKED ABOUT THE INDY 500 AND HE TOLD YOU TO SLOW DOWN. WAS THAT A SERIOUS REQUEST? “Honestly, it’s something that’s bounced around my mind for a couple years. It’s something I feel like is if you could do the double that’s cool. Larson is doing it next year. That’s gonna be great. I’ve poked around that idea with RP for a couple years now and I might have to bring it back up, so we’ll see where that goes.”

WHAT IS IT THAT LURES YOU TO THAT RACE? YOU DON’T HAVE THAT TRADITION OF THAT KIND OF RACING? “No, I don’t, but I just feel like there’s not many people that can do the double. It’s a pretty short list and it would be neat to just do it. I have respect for all forms of motorsports, so I think you want to go experience something like that. I think at my age it would be kind of perfect to do it, but I just think the nostalgia of it and to be able to say you ran hopefully 1100 miles in one day on the racetrack is a cool feat. It’s cool for Kyle being able to do it and maybe one day I’ll get the privilege too.”

ARE YOU READY FOR THE TEST NEXT WEEK? HAVE YOU BEEN BRIEFED? “We had a pretty good run though of what they’re gonna do procedure-wise when we had our meeting with NASCAR before the season ended, so I have a pretty good idea. I don’t know if it’s changed or not, but I am ready to get back behind the wheel. I think that will be nice. It’ll give me a pretty good break. It will actually let me focus on doing productive things for a little bit, so I am excited. Hopefully we find some good stuff at that test. I know we’ve got a lot of things to try and hopefully we can improved that package a little bit.”

WHAT WILL MAKE THE PHOENIX TEST A SUCCESS? “I think if you just have some good notes from it. If you can take a handful of things that, ‘Hey, I think this helped. Let’s continue down this path.’ I think you’re just looking for what path we can continue to go down to try to help it out, so hopefully we can find some of those things and I think that will make it fairly successful.”

WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE BEING THE CHAMPION? “The week immediately after was pretty fast-paced. The week of Thanksgiving was kind of nice being home and not doing much. I think it kind of sank in and then you’re with your family for Thanksgiving, so it’s kind of nice to relive it, and then you come here and it’s brought back up again. You get to see all of your guys in one setting. The parade yesterday was fun. All of my guys had a blast on Broadway. You get re-reminded of it, so it’s been fun. I’ve been trying to take it all in and trying to slow everything down. That’s what I keep telling people. Even at Phoenix I was like, ‘We need to slow this stuff down and try to enjoy it and remember it and embrace it.’ We’ll keep trying to do that, but it’s been a blast and I’m looking forward to the rest of the off-season and what’s to come.”

HAS IT CHANGED YOUR LIFE? “I don’t know. Internally, personally I think it gives you more confidence. You’re a champion and you succeeded and you did well in your job and your sport, but outside of that it doesn’t change. You’re still who you are and you’re still a person, but I think internally it gives you a good feeling of solidifying that you achieved the ultimate accomplishment goal. It makes you feel good, but other than that your life doesn’t really change that much, at least mine doesn’t. I try not to change anything too much.”

TOMMY BALDWIN TALKED ABOUT THROWING YOU IN THE CAR AS A YOUNG DRIVER. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? “Tommy is great. I’m gonna talk about him tonight a little bit in my speech and it’s good to know he’s doing better. I saw him at Richmond earlier this year and he gave me a great opportunity. In 2012, dad was running Cup cars for them and we had a handful of Xfinity races that year, which opened up a lot of doors for me, so I owe him a lot. He’s a huge part of getting me going and giving me opportunities. I’m excited to talk about Tommy. It was nice to talk to him after Phoenix, but I owe him a lot. He’s done so much for the sport and me and my family, so he’s definitely worthy of a lot of praise and he deserves it.”

SO MANY PEOPLE ARE PROUD OF HAVING BEEN A PART OF YOUR JOURNEY. “There are so many people that are involved in it and I wish I could mention everyone tonight, but you can’t. I would be talking for 20 minutes tonight if that was the case, but there are so many people that are involved and I think that’s where my emotion came from immediately after the race was you think about all those people that gave you a shot as a kid – 20 years of meeting people, giving you chances, working with them, a lot of great men and women I’ve been able to work with through the years and met and gave me chances. All of those people roll through your mind and it’s great. It’s hard to believe and a lot of people deserve a ton of credit for all the chances over the last 20 years and that definitely makes it special. And it’s nice to talk to those people after Phoenix. You kind of reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. Bill and Gail Davis reached out, which was great. They did a lot for my dad. Trent (Owens), who was fun. We worked with him a little bit on the K&N side and it was a lot of neat people who have reached out and been really special for me personally.”

ROGER DESCRIBED YOUR TRIP TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP AS A LONG JOURNEY. WHAT DID THE WIN AT POCONO IN 2017 DO FOR YOU? “You get your first win in the series and internally it gives you confidence. ‘Hey, I can win at this level. I can be here.’ I think that was fantastic, whenever you get your first one, but then you still have to prove yourself. You can’t just be one and done, you have to continue to try to do better and continue to grow as a driver and as a person. I think winning for the Wood Brothers there was great and I can’t wait to talk about Eddie and Len tonight, and Leonard and Glen, so that was a really special one and it opened up a lot of doors.”

ROGER HAS A GRAPHIC OF THE TEAM’S SUCCESS THE LAST SIX YEARS COVERING ALL FORMS OF MOTORSPORTS. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PART OF SOMETHING LIKE THAT? “That graphic is pretty amazing if you really look at it – the past six years of that and what he’s succeeded in in all different motorsports around the world. From the V8 stuff in Australia to Indy and NASCAR and IMSA, it’s pretty spectacular and to be a small part of all that success is great. I felt the same way winning my race for the Wood Brothers. Those guys had 98 other wins, but it means a lot that you’re a small part of the journey in the success. I was telling people, especially after we won, we did two firsts for Roger this year, which was win Indy and the 600, which is fantastic, and then back-to-back Cup championships. You don’t often get to do something for Roger that he hasn’t done before and to be able to bring that to him is definitely very special and to have him here celebrating this weekend makes it even better.”

HE ASKED YOUR DAD IF YOU HAD WHAT IT TOOK TO BE A CHAMPION. HOW DID YOU CONVINCE HIM? “You’ve got to talk to my dad about that. I don’t know. I remember going in the bus and talking to Roger in 2012 with my dad. I was 19 and looking for an opportunity, and, honestly, I don’t know how many people know this, but I visited a lot of different teams back in 2012. I went to Junior and Gibbs and stuff like that, trying to find somewhere to have a shot at a job. I got lucky at the time from the Penske side, from Brad’s side and Brad was a huge part of it as well, getting me in there. I think Roger had a lot of respect for my dad and he liked what he saw in the short little brief period, and I think Brad put in a lot of good words in his ear, too. It’s just a lot of people, fortunately, speaking fairly good about me – not that I deserved it, especially back then just getting going, but it gave me opportunities, so however they convinced him to give me a shot is pretty spectacular. And not only giving me a shot in 2012, but sticking with me for 10 years says a lot about his character and his trust in people. There’s a reason why there are a ton of people at Penske have been there for over 10 years, over 20 years. He puts his faith in people and just lets them grow. That’s the kind of amazing person he is.”

WHAT DO YOU FEEL THIS CHAMPIONSHIP WILL DO FOR YOUR REPUTATION IN THE GARAGE AREA? “I don’t know. I don’t really expect to be treated any different. I’m still the same person. We just accomplished something. I think that’s how everyone else wants to approach it. I can’t change how everyone else feels, but I think internally for you, you hold your head high and you have a lot of confidence going into Daytona – and in all of our group. My guys deserve to hold their heads high too going into L.A. and Daytona knowing what they’ve done the previous year, but then you’ve got to do it again. It’s a new year. Once it turns to 2024, ‘23 is forgotten about, so you can’t really focus too much on what we did last year because living in the past is no good. You’ve got to turn your focus on ‘24.”

CAN YOU PUT IN PERSPECTIVE WHERE YOU WERE AT THIS POINT A YEAR AGO AS THE GUY. LAST YEAR IT WAS JOEY AS THE CHAMPION? “That makes up for it, I guess. It ate at me pretty good last year of where we ended the year. I knew it wasn’t anyone’s fault besides mine. That stung and it ate at us a lot, me especially and you just try to get better and try to be in this spot the following year. I think what we learned in ‘23, kind of that hunger and how ‘22 ended for us really fueled us for this year. Jonathan and us worked really hard on it, so it’s nice when those things come full circle. It’s nice that we accomplished it the following year after we thought we had a good shot at it the previous year. You give one away and then it’s nice and rewarding when you work your way back and then accomplish it, which I’m proud of the whole effort by everybody. It’s not just me. It’s everybody.”

YOU HAVE A BIG PLATFORM AS A CHAMPION. IN THAT SENSE, HOW DO YOU HOPE TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN WHATEVER WAY YOU CAN? “I think you have to do both. You have to be impactful in the garage, whether it’s being a big voice in the driver’s council with NASCAR on this stuff. I think you have a right to be very vocal in it. I’m not a very vocal person in those meetings anyway. I should probably start being that way, but I think the away track stuff you have a big obligation as well. They just announced that TV deal going forward in the future and I think those are huge opportunities to push their drivers and champions and stuff like that, so I’ve been harping about what do we have? What are we doing? Let’s get ripping here on opportunities we can do to grow this sport and I think what they announced yesterday is a huge opportunity as well to kind of feed into that year in ‘25, so I think there can be some good opportunities and I’m pushing to do everything we can.”

YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN WILLING TO DO IT. “I want the sport to be healthy. I’m part of this sport and I want this sport, it’s reach, it’s product on track, the outlook of it from the fan perspective, internal perspective from the media, I want this sport to do well because I want to be a part of this sport for a long time, and you don’t want to be part of a sport that’s in a rut. I think they’ve done a great job of getting to where we need to be. I think it’s positive for the future, so my mindset on that stuff is, ‘Hey, I’m growing myself. I’m growing the sport.’ This is like a win-win for everybody. Why not do this stuff? If it’s available for you to do it and it’s not taking you away from your duty, your job on the track, do all the stuff you can to grow the sport because you want it to be healthy and you want to leave it better than when you came into it, and that’s all working towards the future. That’s just kind of how I’ve always been.”

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO AS FAR AS SHOWING YOUR PERSONALITY IN THE ROLE OF A CHAMPION? “I know I’m getting a little bit older than some of the generation that they’re targeting right now, but I still feel like I’m fairly young and hip and I can get the lingo down, but I’ve always been a fairly reserved person. I feel like some of those opportunities open up and, I don’t want to say you’re not yourself, but you’re like almost a little bit more open – at least I’ve been when I do those things and you’re excited to do that stuff and you’re excited to reach new audiences because it’s good for you and it’s good for the sport and it’s neat to reach new people who have no idea what you do. I enjoy meeting people that way, too. I think we have good opportunities. I don’t know how much we can talk about it, but we’ve got some things lined up that are awesome for not only all audience viewers and ages and stuff like that, so hopefully it all comes out well.”

YOU MOONWALKED OUT OF A ROOM ONCE THAT MADE YOUR TEAMMATES CRACK UP. “I don’t remember that. I haven’t moonwalked in a while. I wonder what year that was. I don’t think I can do it. I haven’t done it I guess since I did it there, but it comes out every now and then – it’s just certain moments.”

DID YOU SEE BUBBA’S POST AFTER THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO SLEEP. DID THAT SURPRISE YOU? IT WAS THE BEST SEASON OF HIS CAREER AND ONE OF HIS BEST FRIENDS JUST WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP. “It’s just kind of how Bubba is. He’s very hard on himself. It was fun to celebrate with him. We had a great time. He is just super hard on himself and that’s just how he is. You try to pick him up like, ‘Dude, you did a great job.’ I remember I told him the other night I was like, ‘Man, you did great. Tenth in points. You had a great year and made a good run in the playoffs. You didn’t win, but you had a great year.’ But he just gets down on himself, but I don’t think it’s anything to read much into.”

DENNY SAID IT CAN BE HARD WHEN YOU SEE YOUR FRIENDS HAVING SUCCESS. CAN YOU SEE THAT BEING HARD FOR HIM? “I think it’s partial like seeing a friend do it and it’s other part of seeing another young guy around your age win. Like, when Chase won the championship in 2020 he and I are really great friends. I was super happy for him, but you are kind of jealous. You’re like, ‘Man, I want to be that guy. I want to be in that spot.’ It’s the same like with Larson in ‘21. Larson and I aren’t as good a friends as me and Bubba and Chase, but he’s a younger guy in my age range. You want to be there. You always kind of compare yourself to your age range, I feel like, and I think that’s part of it. You get jealous of the guys in your group that have success and I’m the same way. I think everyone is internally, whether they express it or not.”

WHO WAS THE COOLEST PERSON TO REACH OUT AFTER WINNING? “I think personally, to me, I don’t know if you know who Doug Wolfgang is, but he’s a great sprint car racer. Doug texts me every now and then. Through the year he will always congratulate me, so he called me Monday night after Phoenix and that was super cool to be able to talk to him. My dad is a huge fan of his. My dad respected Doug so much and was always very envious of his success. He was so good. So he called me Monday, which was super cool. I’ll tell you this story. He was like, ‘I have a dilemma. I have this debate internally with myself.’ I was like, ‘What’s that?’ He’s like, ‘Well, i raced with your grandpa and I was jealous of him, so I tried to mirror my driving style off of him. And then your damn dad came along and he was even better, and I tried to mirror myself off of your dad, and now I’m not even racing and I’m watching you and now I’m thinking back that I need to mirror myself off of you, so I have this Blaney curse that I just love watching them.’ That meant a lot to me because I love Doug Wolfgang and my dad respected him so much. That was probably the coolest one personally for me to get a call.”

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO SINK IN? “It took probably over a week because the first week you’re on go super hard and there’s not really any time to relax, but the weekend before Thanksgiving was the one I was at the house and you’re just kind of chilling out and you can have some of your hometown friends over and you can reminisce about it. And then I started watching stuff from that weekend again. I didn’t watch anything from the weekend for like a week, so you’re kind of reliving it and you’re like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s kind of how that unfolded and happened,’ so it took a while.”

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