– We are joined now by the third driver of that Team Penske trio, Ryan Blaney. And I’m sitting here, and I don’t even recognize you with the haircut and no mustache. I mean, you have transformed in the off season.
– Yeah, a little bit. Little bit. Got the razor and clippers out, so that was– that wasn’t bad.
REPORTER: Are you sick of people asking about that, by the way?
– You know, a little bit. I actually– I haven’t heard anything about it till today. So thanks.
– Oh, well. There we go.
– Yeah. I mean, there was a point where the number one story during the off season is Ryan Blaney got a haircut.
– Yeah. I couldn’t believe that, actually. That shows you how slow news off season that was. But no, you know, I figured– I feel lighter, which is nice. And I feel like I look the part. You drive for–
REPORTER: I’m sure the captain’s is much happier.
– Yeah, you got to look prof– you know, look the part. And I respect what he likes his driver to looks like, so.
– Ryan, two full seasons driving for the Wood Brothers. And you got that win at Pocono last year, which we know was very special for you. Your first career win. Special for them.
But now you’re in the big house. You are the third driver for Team Penske. I think this was kind of the master plan all along. But with Jeremy Bullins moving over there, I mean, does it even feel that much different?
– Not really. The transition’s been pretty seamless, to be honest with you, between Jeremy and my engineers coming over with me to the 12 car.
And really, we only have a couple new personnel. And we have a couple new mechanics that are with me. And I think two new pit crew members. But the pit crew members, they’ve been working together for a while.
So that part has been pretty easy. And it’s just a little bit different. Change of scenery, not much.
But I can’t thank the Wood Brothers enough, really, for letting me drive their car. And getting me my first Cup start, or first full-time season in their cars. And be able to win for them was really special as well. And I wish them the best. They’re still going to be a part of the Penske umbrella.
But it’s nice to be in-house. Nice to bring the 12 car back, and to drive a Cup car for Roger Penske full time. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I’ve been there since 2012.
So that part is definitely a cool dream that is coming true. And can’t wait for this year. The car is very bright, if you haven’t seen it yet.
– My spotter definitely likes that. But– you can’t miss it. But I can’t wait for this year, and we’re getting close to the start of the year.
– Watching the clash on Sunday, and it was just like a broken record for the competition. The Penske car’s out front. And really, no one could do anything with you, Brad, and Joey.
Describe the speed in those cars, because you guys are a cut above right now.
– I think so. I mean, you look at the past handful of years, I feel like the Penske Fords have really been above the rest on speedways. And I feel like that’s been really neat to really be a part of. You always want to be at the top of the game at those racetracks, or really, any racetrack.
And that’s just the product of everybody sitting down and figuring out what you need to do to be fast in the speedways. It’s all about a balance between raw speed and handling. And I think handling here at Daytona, especially on Sunday, is going to be more than it has been in a while, with these cars being so low and really rough.
And we got a little bit of an idea in the clash of what it’s going to be like. But then you add, you know, 40 cars on the racetrack, it’s going to change it dramatically. So hopefully we’ve been able to balance that out pretty well. But it’s been nice to be a part of.
And I think Brad is one of the best restrictor plate racers right now. And which– was cool to learn from him a little bit while running in second for that long. But it wasn’t good to run second to him, because it’s hard to pass him.
But if I can do the clash over again, I’d do some different things to try to get around him. But it’s cool to be a part of this group right now. And I think the forwards are super strong on speedways. And hopefully we can apply that for Sunday.
– Speaking of second. That’s how close you came one year ago. All you need is one more spot. Have you looked back on that race at all?
– A little bit, yeah. You look back at all previous races.
– A lot happened on the last lap, I know, certainly.
– It did happen, but you try to learn from those and just apply them to the next time. And that’s really all can do.
– Thanks for being with us. And your buddy Bubba is up next, so help us out. Give us a reason to keep watching. And what’s Bubba going to give us?
– I don’t like Bubba, so I don’t know.
– You don’t like him?