Young driver hopes to continue success with crew chief Jeremy Bullins Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge At the venerable age of 21, Ryan Blaney already has a keen sense of history as he makes the next step of his career. Perhaps some of it comes from the rich racing pedigree of his family, with his father, Dave, and uncle Dale qualifying as highly decorated sprint-car drivers. But some influence surely seeped in after the young driver set foot in the Wood Brothers' racing museum in Stuart, Virginia. Blaney is bracing for his first major foray into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, contesting an 18-race schedule for a team celebrating its 65th year in the business. After touring the shop that's made the Woods part of the fabric of the stock-car racing, Blaney had an even better sense of what it means to field the team's famed No. 21. "I've admired them ever since I was a little kid. How could you not admire them?" Blaney said during last month's Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom. "Just looking back at their history and their family tradition of racing, with me coming from some family, too, it's really cool that everyone has really gotten along so far and we can talk about racing. That's all we want to do is race and win. "Just being part of a great organization that's been around for 65 years -- for one, that speaks a lot to them that they've stuck around for 65 years. Just to be a part of that history is amazing." The team's next chapter involves a new driver who already has five victories in NASCAR's other two national series, but also a reunion of sorts for Jeremy Bullins, who will work with Blaney from atop the pit box. Bullins spent four years (1999-2002) in various roles with the Wood Brothers, including race engineer. But he'll also be reunited as a crew chief for Blaney , continuing a partnership that produced two victories in the last two seasons in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Blaney's accomplishments are part of Bullins' impressive record with Team Penske's No. 22 Ford the last three seasons. Juggling a widely varied roster of part-time drivers, Bullins helped guide the team to 21 wins in that stretch and championships the last two seasons in the owners' standings. "The cool thing about what we did the last few years is, when you have the opportunity to work with multiple drivers like that, you learn a lot about the communications side of things, listening to guys explain things," Bullins said. "I hope that's made me better as a crew chief so that the time that Ryan and I spend together, I'll know what to expect. I don't see it as anything but a positive." Blaney said the natural bond between the two comes from their development in the Team Penske mold. That bond becomes richer this season with the advent of a technical alliance between the Wood Brothers and the Penske operation, an agreement that will include pit-crew support on race days. With Blaney and Bullins sticking together, both sides stand to benefit. "Those two guys -- Ryan and Jeremy -- already having time together, that saves you a year," said Eddie Wood, the No. 21 team's co-owner. "It doesn't seem like it could be that much, but they're already ready to race and up to speed. It's just a really good situation for us because they move in and you're beyond the testing and all that stuff, or hoping it's going to work, or hoping they mesh. They already mesh. "I've been around a long time and I used to be not a great believer in the chemistry that people talk about all the time -- I didn't pay much attention to it. It's real." During one of Blaney's visits to the Virginia shop, the names Pearson and Yarborough among countless others rang out, the collection of trophies, the backseat race car that Glen Wood drove -- all part of the organization's lore. If Blaney were to help the team add to its collection of keepsakes, it would help the team inch toward another historic milestone. The Wood Brothers sit at 98 victories at NASCAR's top level, the most recent coming in the 2011 Daytona 500 with Trevor Bayne at the wheel. For now, Blaney is focused on converting victory No. 1 before the team can think about its 100th. "It's really motivation for everybody," Blaney said. "Everyone wants to excel and have success, and that can work out for both of us. No pressure, really. All I see is opportunity and extra motivation to get it done." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Ryan Blaney talks about competing in 18 Sprint Cup Series races in his 2015 season with Wood Brothers Racing.
Learn more about the sister of Ryan Blaney and the daughter of Dave Blaney RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Editor's note: Photo by Jim Fluharty Hometown: "I was born in Warren, Ohio, but moved to High Point, North Carolina, when I was 7. High Point is a small town that is fun and friendly. I've recently moved in with my parents in Concord, North Carolina — they love having me home, I'm sure. Charlotte is one of my favorite cities, so I'm happy to be so close." My boutique: "In March of 2014, my mom and I opened EmLeigh’s and Mama B’s in Concord. It's been a dream come true. I wake up every day excited to go to work. I am working in my dream closet. What 24-year-old girl (Emma turned 24 on Tuesday, Jan. 20) wouldn't love that?" Fashion: "I have always been the girl who isn't afraid to wear just about anything. Fashion and style are just ways of being yourself. You need to show you through anything you do, and one of the easiest ways to speak without saying anything is through what you wear." Favorite midnight snack: "I can tear up some edamame and some Cosmic Brownies. I have the appetite of a 5-year-old, so you'll always see me with Nerds Rope, Pop-Tarts, honeybuns or chocolate milk." Favorite app: "Instagram or Vine. I can easily waste two hours looking through pictures or watching hilarious videos." Music that moves me: "Physically, hip-hop or rap. I do an awful lot of unattractive dancing, but it's just so fun for me. If good music is playing, I'm dancing. Mentally, John Legend. In my head, he is singing all those cute love songs to me, and it turns my bad days into good ones." Favorite movies: "My all-time favorite is 'The Sandlot.' I watched it growing up and it never gets old. But I also love just about any movie starring Jim Carrey." Favorite websites: "I am married to a little thing called Pinterest. I know it is just so typical 'girl,' but whoever thought of Pinterest deserves Edible Arrangements every week because they are making the female population very happy." Habit I'd like to kick: "Putting on workout clothes but never actually working out. I find myself putting on workout clothes and walking to the Waffle House all too often." Biggest influence in my life: "My family. I have a dad who has worked hard his entire life, has never given up on what he loves and would do anything for our family. I have a mom who has kept us all in line. She has a lot on her plate but makes sure all of us are always taken care of. I have a younger brother who is doing big-boy things and living out his dream. And I have a younger sister who is always supportive of everyone and can make anyone smile at any time." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Wood Brothers Racing's Ryan Blaney talks about becoming the latest young driver for the legendary family. The team also announces the addition of six races to the 2015 schedule.
Truck Series driver has no problem switching seats Ryan Blaney has made a habit of deftly bouncing from ride to ride in all three NASCAR national series this season. The cross-training has not only given the 20-year-old plenty of time behind the wheel, it's made him a more versatile driver as he takes the next step in his racing career. Blaney , fresh from a third-place finish last weekend in the NASCAR Nationwide Series behind Sprint Cup regulars Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick at Kansas Speedway , has much more criss-crossing on tap for the closing stages of 2014. He'll return to his full-time gig driving in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Oct. 18 at Talladega Superspeedway , where he'll also attempt to make his second career Sprint Cup start the following day. But first things first: Blaney has another start scheduled on the Nationwide side for Team Penske at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. "I'm really excited for Charlotte," Blaney said last weekend in Kansas. "I've got Greg Erwin crew-chiefing me, and I think we're pretty close to how we were at Kentucky, and we had a pretty good run there with Greg. I really like Charlotte and it's always been a fun race track for me. Looking forward to running three out of the last four Nationwide events." Blaney has two Nationwide races remaining (Charlotte, Texas) in the Erwin-led No. 12 Penske Ford and one left (Phoenix) with Jeremy Bullins atop the pit box for the No. 22 Mustang. Bullins, who oversaw Blaney's Sprint Cup debut in May at Kansas, will again be calling the shots for the youngster's return at Talladega. While Blaney's Nationwide car number will vary the next three weeks, the team's preparation won't change. "The races this year that we've run the 12 (Nationwide) program, we're trying to mirror what we're doing with the 22, so we'll be in constant contact with them and make sure that's as good an effort as it can be," Bullins said. "Then we're all excited to go with him to Talladega here in a couple weeks; that's going to be a lot of fun." Blaney will embark on heavier Sprint Cup duty next season running a part-time schedule in the Wood Brothers' famed No. 21 Ford team, which will share a technical alliance with Team Penske beginning in 2015. He plans to continue driving duties for Penske in Nationwide competition, where he's recorded top-10 finishes in all but one of his 11 starts this season. While Blaney has one victory in each the Nationwide and Truck series this year, he's been on the cusp of several more. In trucks, he also possesses two runner-up finishes and ranks third in standings this season, and has been no worse than fourth his last four times out in the Nationwide tour. "We've been close," Blaney said. "We just haven't been able to quite get to Victory Lane these last handful of races." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Technical alliance formed with Team Penske RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Ryan Blaney will fill in for Trevor Bayne in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford Friday and Saturday at Michigan International Speedway as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams begin preparations for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400. Next season, Blaney will replace Bayne on a more permanent basis. Blaney , 20, has been named driver for the legendary team beginning in 2015, and will compete in at least 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events. Bayne will move into a full-time role in Sprint Cup with Roush Fenway Racing next season. This weekend, he will be at Mid-Ohio to compete in the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200, creating the opening for Blaney to practice and qualify the Sprint Cup car for the Wood Brothers. The opportunity to drive the familiar red and white No. 21 Ford, which has carried some of the sport's most legendary figures to victory lane is "unbelievable," Blaney said. "It's really a dream come true so I couldn't be happier. "I'm ready to finish out this 2014 season very strong, try to go after this Truck championship and I'm really excited and looking forward to '15. I think it'll be a great year for us." Blaney currently competes in the Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing. He is the series' points leader after 11 of this season's 22 events with a series' best seven top-five finishes. He has two career wins. Eddie Wood said the search for Bayne's replacement began as soon as Bayne announced his plans to move up to Cup full-time with RFR. "Of course, that left us without a driver," Wood said. "As the summer went on the name that kept popping up was Ryan Blaney and it just kept coming up over and over and over again, so we went in that direction and fortunately we put that deal together. "We've had Trevor for the last four years and had that one great big win at Daytona (in 2011). That was almost a life-changing event for us as well as Trevor. I hope that we can repeat some of that success with Ryan . "He's the next big deal, I think, and we're real excited to have him. We've got a lot of pictures on our wall up in Virginia in the museum and we'd sure love to put him up there as a winner." Wood said for now the team's limited schedule likely would remain unchanged for next season, with the team competing in at least 12 Sprint Cup events. Motorcraft/Quick Lane will return as primary sponsor for 2015. Additional funding could mean an expanded schedule. "We're always chasing other dollars to run more races and we're certainly going to be in a position to do that," Wood said. In addition to the driver move, officials also announced the formation of a technical alliance with Team Penske , which fields Ford teams in the Sprint Cup Series for drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano . Since 2012, Blaney has made several starts for Team Penske in the Nationwide Series , and made his Sprint Cup debut earlier this year with the organization, finishing 27th at Kansas. He is scheduled to make one more Sprint Cup start with the team this year, at Talladega. The alliance "is something that's foreign to us to be honest," said Team Penske president Tim Cindric, "because it's not something we've done in the past. "We've been approached in different ways and … some of that has to do with how well you run and how well you don't run. When you're running up front, everybody wants to work with you and when you're not, then you don't get as many calls. But our answer has usually been the same. Our answer has usually been, ‘We've got enough to focus on at our place.'" Working closely with the Wood Brothers made sense "for many reasons," he said. "We're certainly focused on not only ensuring that Ryan has the tools to be successful and continues his career, but ensuring that the Wood Brothers have everything that we have." In addition to his Sprint Cup duties, Blaney will likely continue to share seat time in the No. 22 Ford fielded by Team Penske in the Nationwide Series next season. "I'd like to do as much racing as possible next year and that stuff will come later on down the road," Blaney said. "We're just excited to announce the stuff today. … I'd like to race as much as possible but we're focused on finishing out this year strong and I'm really excited about the Wood Brothers deal next year and I'm sure we'll figure all that stuff out later." Wood Brothers Racing is one of the longest tenured groups competing in NASCAR's premier series. Founded by Glen Wood when NASCAR was just beginning to take root in the early 1950s, the team has won 98 races and has always been affiliated with Ford Motor Company. Glen and younger brother Leonard Wood, who served as crew chief, are members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Glen's children, Eddie, Len and Kim, run the organization today. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Ryan Blaney will also attempt to qualify for the Cup Series race at Talladega in October
Driver finishes 21 points shy of Matt Crafton in 2014 standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Midway through the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finale, a wrench was thrown into Ryan Blaney 's plans for a long-shot title bid. So his team reacted by throwing a wrench into his truck. Blaney responded with a near-seamless charge back to the front in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , rallying from a broken shifter for his 12th top-five finish of the year. His fifth-place effort wasn't quite enough to overcome Matt Crafton 's ninth-place run on the way to his second consecutive championship; Blaney wound up 21 points off the top in the final standings. "We didn't finish the year like we wanted to, but we've got to look at the positive side," the 20-year-old Blaney said. "We had a good year and we were in the hunt, and that's all we can look at." The roundabout way to fifth place wasn't without its adventures. When Blaney tried to leave his pit stall during the fourth of seven caution periods shortly after the race's midpoint, the shifter level snapped off, forcing his No. 29 Ford to stall. Once the word spread about the parts failure, his in-truck camera focused in as Blaney held up the broken lever. His Brad Keselowski Racing crew was able to inspect the damage on the SprintVision big screen behind their pit stall. "Luckily, I guess the camera paid off because we had him hold up the piece so we could tell where it broke, how far," said Chad Kendrick, Blaney's crew chief. "We know what it looks like, and we knew depending on where it broke what we needed to do to try to help him out. So we knew how much nub was left and what the size was, so our plan was to try to change it, but we knew we'd lose a ton of track position -- maybe even a lap -- doing it. Then he said he would deal with it, and he did a great job dealing with it, but I don't know how he did that." During the next caution period, they handed Blaney vise-grips, which he fiddled with for almost a full lap under yellow to rig a makeshift lever. Satisfied with his repair, Blaney methodically marched back into contention for the lead, eventually going three-wide up front with Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch and race winner Darrell Wallace Jr . with 15 laps remaining. But Blaney's truck was better suited to longer green-flag runs, and he wound up shuffled back to the bottom of the top five amidst the hard-nosed racing. "It took off a lot better than I thought it was going to at the end for about five or six laps, and then it fell off the way it did," Blaney said. "Took off good, showed some promise, and shame it wasn't a five-lap shootout deal at the end. Just couldn't get it." Blaney and Kendrick debriefed on pit road afterward, eventually joined by their team owner. Keselowski peered into the cockpit to inspect the make-do shifter before congratulating both driver and crew chief on a solid campaign. Kendrick shrugged at the final standings while the fireworks went off in Victory Lane, but he expressed optimism about BKR's outlook while acknowledging Crafton's historic achievement. "You know, a top-five, I can't hold my head down too low," Kendrick said. "We wanted to win the championship. The first thing we had to do was outrun the 88 (Crafton) and we did that all night, but we needed him to have bad luck and it didn't happen. Hats off to those guys -- they ran good all year. We'll come back next year and the team will look a little different, but we'll be back here and try to get Ford some more victories." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Darrell Wallace Jr videobombs Ryan Blaney giving an interview during a rain delay of the NCWTS qualifying session at Chicagoland Speedway.
Driver times perfect lap to take first starting position RELATED : Starting lineup BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Ryan Blaney won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award on Saturday, timing the start of his lap perfectly in the five-minute final round. The 11 other trucks couldn't say the same. Blaney was the lone driver to start his official lap before time ran out in the final session -- the other 11 trucks were barreling toward the start/finish line, but didn't make it in time. In the No. 29 Ford, Blaney slowed when he heard the news over the radio and logged an official speed of 173.152 mph. Speeds topped 187 mph in the second, 24-truck round. Blaney , the series points leader, will lead the field to green later today in the Career for Veterans 200 (12:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). It's the third pole of Blaney's career and first at Michigan. Joey Logano will line up second, followed by Timothy Peters , Darrell Wallace Jr. and Johnny Sauter . Among the drivers not qualifying for the final round were Austin Dillon (13th), Matt Crafton (14th), Ben Kennedy (16th), Ron Hornaday Jr. (17th) All 24 trucks waited until the final minute of the 10-minute second round to pull off pit road, setting up a frenzied shootout to set the order for the final round. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView