Roger Penske has said his young NASCAR protege Ryan Blaney is “part of the family” and is moving closer to becoming a full-blown member of Penske’s Sprint Cup lineup.
Blaney, 22, is currently entered by the Wood Brothers, using equipment supplied by Penske. He leads the rookie standings over Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, and is 14th in Cup points overall.
Blaney finished sixth at Las Vegas last weekend, and looks set to be brought even closer to the Penske fold next season.
“Our goal is ultimately for that to be a Penske entry – or maybe a Wood-Penske entry, depending on how the Charter system works out,” said Penske. “Today it’s entered by the Wood Brothers, they’re involved in the strategy, some of their guys work on it, and it’s perfect.
“You could call him the nephew, you could say. He’s part of the family. He’s in the shop, he briefs with us, it’s a great setup.
“We’ve put that car with Wood Brothers, we’ve built the crew around it. It’s a great way to bring another driver along in good equipment. And I think if you ask the Woods, they’re happy. It keeps them in the game.
“It’s a great training ground for our people. It’s as good a team as there is around now.”
“Build him without the pressure”
Penske said that it had a long-term strategy with Blaney, going forwards, and this way it could allow him to build his experience in a low-pressure environment before stepping up his level to being an expected regular frontrunner.
“Our plan with [Blaney] has worked out well, he’s been with us now for four years,” he added. “The fact we’ve been able to provide the car and get [crew chief] Jeremy Bullins over there, and working with the Woods, it means we can build him without the pressure of being with Brad [Keselowski] and Joey [Logano].
“But he can use them as a benchmark because he’s got access to all their information, because the cars and pieces are the same.
“He’s going to be good, he and Chase [Elliott] at that age and having that experience. If you finish ahead of Kevin Harvick in anything, you’re having a good day.”