By the end of last year, the opportunity to run a half dozen Nationwide races during the 2012 season began to take shape and running those races will likely play a big factor in what becomes of Ryan Blaney’s racing career.
[media-credit name=”Robert Lahser – charlotteobserver.com” align=”alignright” width=”197″][/media-credit]The spotlight will grow on him as he races in the K&N Pro Series East race at Richmond International Speedway on April 26th. Which will certainly be an advantage to Blaney who will be making his Nationwide Series debut the following day.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a big advantage racing the day before. I raced in the K&N series last year, it was my first race in K&N, and I really like the track. It’s one of my favorite racetracks that we run at. I think they’re around the same time we’ll be racing Nationwide at K&N.”
“So it gives you a good concept of what the track will do from day to night. What it will do later in the race. Where you might get an idea where the groove might move to.”
“That’s why all the Cup drivers, a lot of them run Nationwide Series the day before, so they can get a feel of what the track’s going to do later in the race. So it’s going to be a big help for me, a big learning experience to see what will help us out later in the race.”
The 18-year old racer will also get a big helping hand from his father who happens to be the 1995 World of Outlaws champion and Sprint Cup Series driver, Dave Blaney.
“He’s always been really good at that racetrack (Richmond), so it will be really good being able to talk to him and relate what he feels from what I feel. We can definitely try things that we think will be better that he tells me. So it’s going to be a giant help both ways there.”
He will also be able to turn another racer in the family, his uncle Dale and says that it is a big plus being a third generation race car driver.
“You’ve just got so many people you can ask about what they see and they’ve got the racers intellect. We kind of think alike, all racers kind of think alike. So it’s definitely a big help that I’ve got somebody that thinks like that and they’re really close to me that I can talk to them always. I think from my uncles and my dad I think it’s kind of a hereditary thing, race cars and all that. We definitely think alike. I’ve picked up the instincts and all that stuff from my dad, uncle and grandpa.”
However, the only disadvantage that he sees is not living up to what they’ve already done.
“If anything, that kind of motivates me to make them — maybe to make me be better than they are and to achieve more. So I really see it as kind of motivates me to be just like them or be better.”
In addition to racing in six Nationwide events for Tommy Baldwin Racing in the No. 36 SealWrap Repair Tape Chevrolet beginning next weekend, he is also in the midst of a six race run in the K&N Pro Series wheeling the family-owned DB Racing No. 10 SealWrap Repair/Heavy Duty Industrial Service car.
His first race in that car this season resulted in an impressive runner-up finish at Bristol last month.
The Nationwide Series races he is scheduled to run in are as follows:
April 27th – Richmond International Raceway
May 11th – Darlington Raceway
June 29th – Kentucky Speedway
July 28th – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
August 24th – Bristol Motor Speedway
October 12th – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Ryan feels ready and prepared for next weekend.
“We’ve done a lot of stuff. We ran our normal late models and ran a handful of K&N races and ran a handful of ARCA races and did really good in them. So I think that we’ve taken our time in making sure we’re ready for this Nationwide debut, and hopefully I am, and we’ll see you here in a couple of weeks.”
Just like all young drivers, Ryan will have to gain the respect of the veteran drivers. And that will come from him showing that he belongs on the track with them.
Two of NASCAR’s most successful veteran drivers, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick have spoken highly of Ryan’s talent.
“The biggest thing with Ryan is his demeanor. I’ve watched him a couple times and I know he’s had good stuff – not great stuff – to race with and like many of us coming up through the ranks, he has done more with less,” said Harvick.
Stewart agrees with him.
“Ryan has a great pedigree – his grandfather, father and uncle are all great race car drivers. He’s been around winners all his life. He’s seen from Day 1 how to do it the right way.”
And that certainly means a lot to him.
“I haven’t really talked to them heading up to Richmond. I’ve just been watching a lot of tapes and trying to learn as much as possible. I’ll be on the prowl, I guess you could say, next week of talking to drivers about what Richmond’s like and what they think of it.”
“Yeah, I really can’t wait for it. I think it will be a really good race, both races I’m in.”