Ryan Blaney is all smiles this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. And as he should be.
Not only is the 20-year old the current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader for Brad Keselowski Racing, but he is also the new driver of the famed No. 21 Ford Fusion for Wood Brothers Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2015.
Officially announced Thursday, Blaney will take the reins from current driver Trevor Bayne who will move to a full-time Cup ride at Roush Fenway Racing next season. Blaney, a Team Penske Racing development driver since 2012, will compete in at least 12 races driving the iconic No. 21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford Fusion.
“I am very excited to be able to race for the Wood Brothers next year,” said Blaney Friday morning. “They have been so great to me with the week and a half that I have been over there. The history of this team is very special and being able to drive for this team is special and a dream come true.”
The Wood Brothers Racing team will get more than just Blaney though. The Stuart, Virginia-based team also announced that it has formed a technical alliance with Team Penske.
“Right now we have an alliance with Roush Fenway and that includes engineering, cars and everything about it. It will be a similar situation with Team Penske,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing. “The difference will be that Team Penske has never done this before. This is new to them. That will be a work in progress to figure out how to do everything. It is going to be a similar situation.”
This weekend, Blaney is getting acquainted with his new ride by practicing and qualifying the No. 21 Ford Fusion for Bayne, who’s in Mid-Ohio competing in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 (2:45 p.m. ET on ESPN). Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner for Wood Brother Racing, will race Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400 Sprint Cup event.
Blaney’s first Cup race under the Wood Brothers Racing banner will come in next February’s season-opening Daytona 500.
Chris Knight - NASCAR Wire Service