Team Penske signs Ryan Blaney to long-term extension

Editor’s note: ryan blaney will be honored in USA Network’s new unscripted series “Race for the Championship” will air this fall. The first episode is Thursday, September 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Watch the trailer here.

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Building on a relationship first forged 10 years ago, Team Penske announced on Wednesday that it has signed Ryan Blaney to a long-term contract extension, keeping the No. 12 Ford driver on board. of the organization into the next decade with the team.

The Roger Penske-led team didn’t disclose terms, but said the long-term deal would keep Blaney on its NASCAR Cup Series roster “well into the future.”

“It’s really nice to do something. Me and [Roger Penske] I spoke this year that it’s hard to believe I signed with them in the summer or fall of 2012,” Blaney told NASCAR.com. “So it’s been 10 years, which is pretty unreal, blew my mind to be honest with you. So they’ve been just amazing with me.

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Blaney included a long list of thanks, from Penske himself, to executive vice president Walt Czarnecki, team president Tim Cindric and vice president of operations Michael Nelson, among others. The 28-year-old also singled out eventual Cup Series teammate Brad Keselowski, who gave him his first full-time National Series run in the Camping World Truck Series in 2013.

“It really means a lot that they believed in me for 10 years and are looking forward to hopefully continuing that for a long, long time,” Blaney said. “So they’ve been family to me, and I owe them a lot, that’s for sure.”

Blaney’s last contract extension with the organization was announced in March 2020. He entered into his first deal with the team – concluded in July 2012 – at an almost different time in retrospect. Blaney was then an 18-year-old prospect, the team was in its final season with Dodge before moving to Ford, and its NASCAR operations were still called Penske Racing. (Penske’s stock car and IndyCar groups merged under the unified Team Penske name in 2014.)

That first development deal with Penske paved the way for part-time work in the Xfinity Series, where Blaney first wowed the NASCAR garage with a seventh-place finish at Richmond on his series debut with Tommy Baldwin Racing. Since then, he has won seven Cup Series races for Team Penske and affiliate team Wood Brothers Racing and has been a playoff contender for five consecutive seasons.

“To be fair, on the one hand, being noticed by a great team like Penske, and having me there and meeting Brad, meeting Tim Cindric and everybody, that really meant a lot to me,” Blaney said, recalling his time with the organization as his father, Dave, finished his Cup Series career with the Baldwin team. “I grew up around racing, just watching dad do it, and, you know, he never really had a chance like that with a big team. I mean, he was able to drive for RCR and Bill Davis, who were amazing teams, but not like, you know, a Penske or a Hendrick or a Gibbs. Dad never really had that chance, so it made me appreciate him even more, in that aspect of like, ‘Dude, I got a really big chance here, something that dad, you know, didn’t never had the opportunity to do. ‘ So really grateful to be able to be part of such a great group and to be able to stay with them for such a long time and for us to extend it, it really means a lot.

“So I never would have thought, when we put a car together to race in Richmond in 2012, that I would be here, let alone driving for Penske. So just when you look back and put the things in perspective, there are a lot of people to thank because this would never have happened without a lot of people involved.

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People, says Blaney, are what drove him to focus singularly on re-signing. His first Cup Series win came with family group Wood Brothers in 2017. He moved up to the No. 12 team the following year when the Penske team expanded to a three-car operation.

Logan Riely | Getty Images

Although he’s now with the larger Mooresville, North Carolina-based operation, Blaney says the fit still has a close feel. Although Penske and Ford have provided him with seemingly limitless resources, Blaney has laughed at the idea of ​​imposing on those he considers his extended family.

“They’ve been amazing with me, and I almost get nervous sometimes asking them stuff because they’re already doing so much,” Blaney says. “They always talk like, ‘you can ask anything you want. If you need to change something or if you need something, just ask us’, but that always makes me nervous because they have so much done for me, I have always been sometimes silent on this matter.

“But people make you feel at home and make you feel welcome, and knowing that they expect you so much to perform well for them, it gives me extra motivation to want to do well for these guys and girls who work at the race shop and may not even have the chance to hit the track. People who have never been on the track, who are just shop-based engineers, they even make you feel at home and you try to give it back to them. So I mean, that was the most important thing for me is that they treated me well. And I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else where they would treat me as well as the folks at Penske and Wood Brothers have over the years.

With his long-term future secured, the near-term goal of reaching the Cup Series Playoffs for the sixth consecutive year remains on his to-do list. Blaney tentatively ranks as the last driver in the field of 16, holding a 26-point advantage over Martin Truex Jr. for the last spot with two regular-season races remaining.

With 15 winners already through 24 races this year, the playoff picture is already crowded. The series heads to the Watkins Glen road course this weekend for Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen (3 p.m. ET, US, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM) before locking down the playoff grid during of the regular season finale at Daytona, where Blaney is the defending race winner.

“If we couldn’t win Richmond, it was good to extend on Martin given their track record there,” said Blaney, who added seven points to his playoff cushion on Truex. “I was good to get out of there, and you’re leading on those guys more and more, so it was a good job from everyone to achieve that goal. I mean, honestly, the next two weeks you keep trying to do the same thing we’ve been doing all year. You try to win every week. There is no more emphasis on winning now than in the spring. It’s just, you try to do it every week, you just try to keep repeating it, and you just see where things move.

“I mean, if there’s a new winner this weekend, then we know our job before Daytona. And if we’re Daytona’s bubble car, then you know your job of trying to win the race, to try and do your best to stay up there and fight for a win and hope that a new winner doesn’t emerge and you’re hit. So at the same time you always have to be aware that you always run 19 (Truex) to try and get a point cushion especially at Daytona so yeah just try to win try to create a point spread and do what we can I try to not to be too obsessed or distracted by what other teams are doing, even if you notice what the group of 19 and other groups are doing, but I think the best thing to do is to focus on yourself, because you are not going to change the results of others, you can only control your own.

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