Blaney makes case with Nationwide win

Sep. 25, 2013 @ 07:48 PM

With a first Nationwide Series victory under his belt, the question facing Ryan Blaney is when will he get a crack at scoring another.

Blaney won late Saturday at Kentucky Speedway in just his second start of the season as part of spot duty in Roger Penske’s No. 22, getting the opportunity because the car’s main drivers, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, were occupied in New Hampshire attending to their main job as Penske’s Cup drivers.
With the remaining Nationwide races in conjunction with Cup events and Keselowski and Logano expected to split time in them, the 19-year-old Blaney doesn’t know when Penske will give him another call, despite winning in just his 16th Nationwide start.
The only thing certain for the remainder of the year is his job as driver of Keselowski’s No. 29 in the Truck Series, for which he won once last season and posted a win at Pocono this season.
As for 2014, Blaney plans to stay with Penske but rumors are floating that he is on the radar screen of the Furniture Row Racing team in the Cup Series.
“There have been very, very little talks with other teams, but right now my loyalty is to Penske Racing and finishing out this 2013 season very strong, either in that Nationwide car, if I get another race, or finishing out the Truck season very strong for Brad Keselowski Racing,” Blaney said.
“I’m just really focused on that right now, and then in the offseason, we’ll see what doors open up or if we progress here with Penske like planned.”
Blaney, who also tested Cup cars for Penske last winter, did admit he would have liked to have raced more in the Nationwide Series this year to fill in the gaps between events in the Truck Series, which has just 22 races.
“I think to really progress, I’d obviously like to do more Nationwide races than I got this year,” Blaney said. “I only got about two this year. So obviously, I’d like to do more of that, especially with how relaxed the Truck schedule is, only racing 22 times a year. You have a lot of down time.
“There will be some times where it’s three weeks in between races for the Truck guys, and that really just gets you out of rhythm and kind of makes you a little bit rusty. Obviously, I’d like to race a lot more and wish I had more Nationwide races to get me more experience in those cars.
“So that’s really what I’d like, but it’s not my decision to make. It’s the guys over there at Penske and knowing what they can do and what they think I’m ready for.”
Blaney certainly made a case for more Nationwide action after leading 96 of the last 100 laps at Kentucky, holding on to the top spot during a restart with nine laps to go and becoming the fourth driver to win in the No. 22 this season.
“It just proves that you can do it,” Blaney said. “You know, to jump in there with a great team like the 22 team, it was really special to do that.”
He goes back to his Truck Series duties this weekend at Las Vegas and believes the Nationwide win can help that effort.
“Just overall, (winning) helps, and you hope to make something of that momentum going into the next week and just still keep building off of that and having good runs after that,” he said.

ANOTHER PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
One of the reasons that Richard Childress Racing hired Ryan Newman to replace Jeff Burton in the No. 31 Chevrolets came to light on Wednesday.
Quicken Loans announced it will follow Newman from Stewart-Haas Racing to RCR and will be the No. 31’s primary sponsor for 12 races next season, providing the financial support for the majority of races not sponsored by Caterpillar.
Childress had said the move to replace Burton was made because the team would have been underfunded (lacking sponsors other than Caterpillar) if Burton had been retained for what he was originally planned to be his final season.

MODIFIEDS RETURN TO CARAWAY
The NASCAR Southern Modified Tour returns to Caraway Speedway on Saturday after being rained out last weekend at Southern National Raceway Park near Kenly.
George Brunnhoelzl III holds a 20-point lead over Kyle Ebersole.
Brunnhoelzl holds the Tour record with 10 Caraway wins. He and Andy Seuss have won nine of the last 12 Caraway races, the last one going to Seuss on Sept. 8.
Caraway’s late model division will not be in action and will remain idle until the season points finale on Oct. 13.
The race at Southern National was scrubbed after rain started following qualifying in which Burt Myers posted the fastest lap. The 150-lap event was rescheduled for Oct. 5.
The rain on Saturday also postponed the UARA late model series race at Caraway to Sunday afternoon. Dillon Bassett of Winston-Salem posted his third straight win in the series. High Point’s Travis Swaim won the pole, ran conservatively in the beginning to cut down on tire wear and charged to second place at the end.
gsmith@hpe.com
888-3556
@hpeGreer