Blaney set for busy racing weekend
For the second straight week, Ryan Blaney will experience a first in his racing career.
Last Saturday, the former High Point resident made his first Cup start for car owner Roger Penske in addition to competing in a Truck race at Kansas Speedway. He’ll do double duty again in two major NASCAR series, but for the first time will do it at two different tracks.
Blaney competes in Friday night’s Truck race for Brad Keselowski Racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway, then hop on Keselowski’s plane and travel to Iowa Speedway to drive Penske’s No. 22 in a Nationwide Series race on Sunday.
“I love doing double duty,” Blaney said on a teleconference this week. “This is the first time I’ve raced at one track one day and then have to fly to another track the next. It’s pretty neat. A different variety of racetracks. That’s cool.”
He doesn’t foresee a problem of racing first on Charlotte’s 1.5-mile layout and then having to adjust to the 7/8-mile Iowa track, where he won a Truck race two years ago and Keselowski won in the No. 22 car last year.
“I think the mental preparation will be fine,” Blaney said. “Hopefully we have a good Truck race and that will carry momentum into the Nationwide race. Even if we don’t have a good Truck race, we’ll go after that Nationwide race.”
Blaney could use a couple of good outings after a tough stretch. He crashed in the Truck race at Kansas. The week before that, he was running near the front and caused a big wreck in the Nationwide race at Talladega, a move that brought him heat from other drivers.
“When a young driver makes a mistake like that, when you’re the cause of a big wreck like that at a superspeedway, it definitely takes a toll on you,” Blaney said. “You get a lot of heat on social media from fans. You get a lot of heat in the garage area, especially when it’s all your fault.
“It took me a few days to get over. It was really tough. Whenever you make a mistake as a driver, you keep reliving that moment, playing it over and over in your head of what you could have done different. But it’s not going to change anything if you keep reliving it. By the time I figured that out, it was Monday or Tuesday, and I was able to finally move on.
“I had a bunch of help from other guys to help me forget that. Mr. Penske texted me and said to forget about it, that’s racing, things happen. I was at a tire test and Carl Edwards came up to me and talked to me a little bit. All that stuff helped me get over it and prepared me for the weekend at Kansas.”
As for the Cup debut, he didn’t try to do anything spectacular while getting accustomed to driving a Cup car. He had a shot at a top-20 finish but had trouble with a loose wheel near the end and finished 27th, four laps behind winner Jeff Gordon.
“(The Cup car) feels like a Truck with 200 more horsepower,” he said. “That was tough to get a hold of. Once we got that, we were good in practice. Our first round of qualifying was good. Didn’t qualify as good as I thought we should have in the second round.
“In the race, we progressively got better. It’s a shame we didn’t get the finish we deserved. I thought we could have finished 18th or 20th.”
In addition to the trouble at the end, there was disappointment before the race. His father, Dave Blaney, was the only driver not to make the starting field, preventing them from competing in a Cup race together.
“He was pretty bummed that they didn’t make it,” Blaney said. “They were pretty good in practice. I think the track took a bunch of rubber there before qualifying. They weren’t very good. That (stunk). Hopefully we’ll get a chance someday (to race against each other in Cup).”
Ryan Blaney will be a little bit behind at Iowa, being unable to participate in three practice sessions on Friday. But he will have an hour of practice on Saturday before qualifying.
“They had an open test there last week, early last week, because they put a bunch of (asphalt) patches around that racetrack,” Blaney said. “They had a handful of teams go up there. Brad went up with the 22 car and ran it a little bit. They have some laps on it. They got a good baseline for it.
“At least I’ll have one practice Saturday, unlike last year where I just showed up for the race and subbed for Joey (Logano).”
Bowman Gray Stadium and Caraway Speedway look to return to action after washouts last week.
To avoid conflict with the All-Star race, Caraway is shifting its racing to Friday night, with a program featuring a pair of 40-lap Late Model Stock races.
Last week’s program at Bowman Gray is rescheduled for Saturday. It features a 100-lap Modified race.
THIS AND THAT
If you’re more interested in straight-line action than oval tracks, the IHRA NitroJam Spring Nationals are slated Saturday and Sunday at Rockingham Dragway. ... Jared Fryar of Trinity finished fourth in the PASS South race Friday at Ace Speedway. Tyler Church of Hickory won the 150-lap event.