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May 13, 2014

Ryan Blaney

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined now by Ryan Blaney from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.  Ryan is preparing to run his second consecutive double duty this weekend.  He's going to race the Truck Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway, then to Iowa Motor Speedway to drive for Team Penske in the Nationwide Series on Sunday.
Ryan, thanks for joining us.  We're glad to have you today.
RYAN BLANEY:  Thanks for having me.
THE MODERATOR:  Belated congratulations on the first Cup start for you last week at Kansas.  I know that was a big moment for you.  But you had another big moment at Iowa Speedway, and that was in 2012 when you won your first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa.  Can you talk about winning that race.
RYAN BLANEY:  Winning at Iowa, especially it being my first win in the Truck Series, Brad Keselowski Racing's first win in the Truck Series, along with Cooper Standard, that was huge.  I have a lot of family from Iowa.  My mom is from up there.  That was a perfect night and cool to share that moment with them.
We've had some strong runs there last year that didn't really play out.  So hopefully we'll have a good run Friday night in the Truck at Charlotte and hopefully another good run in Iowa on Sunday.
I love double duty weekends.  When you get a chance to run two different series, that makes it even cooler.
THE MODERATOR:  Let's open it up to questions for Ryan Blaney, please.

Q.  I want to go back to Talladega.  I know you apologized to your fellow competitors via social media.  But can you tell us when a driver makes a mistake, when you take credit for it, how you were able to get by it and move on?  With Kansas last week, you had a lot coming on.  How did you move through it?
RYAN BLANEY:  Especially when a young driver makes a mistake like that, when you're the cause of a big wreck like that at a superspeedway, it definitely takes a toll on you.  You get a lot of heat on social media from fans.  You get a lot of heat in the garage area, especially when it's all your fault.
It took me a few days to get over.  It was really tough.  Whenever you make a mistake as a driver, you keep reliving that moment, playing it over and over in your head of what you could have done different.  But it's not going to change anything if you keep reliving it.  By the time I figured that out, it was Monday or Tuesday, and I was able to finally move on.
I had a bunch of help from other guys to help me forget that.  Mr. Penske texted me and said to forget about it, that's racing, things happen.  I was at a tire test and Carl Edwards came up to me and talked to me a little bit.  All that stuff helped me get over it and prepared me for the weekend at Kansas.
It was a big weekend for us making my Cup debut.  I had to have a clear mind.  Hopefully I'll never be in that situation again, but it was definitely tough for sure.

Q.  Can you take me through your schedule for this Wednesday and how you're going to handle Friday.  Is anyone going to drive your car in Iowa?
RYAN BLANEY:  We race Friday night in Charlotte.  From Friday night right up to Truck racing, I'm taking Brad's plane right to Iowa, be there for a little bit of practice Saturday, qualifying and the race.
But Friday at Iowa there's not going to be anyone up there testing our car.  Luckily I think we have an hour session on Saturday morning to get a little bit of laps in it.
Iowa Speedway, had an open test there last week, early last week, because they put a bunch of patches around that racetrack.  They had a handful of teams go up there.  Brad went up with the 22 car and ran it a little bit.  They have some laps on it.  They got a good baseline for it.
At least I'll have one practice Saturday, unlike last year where I just showed up for the race and subbed for Joey.

Q.  Do you feel like you'll be behind at all giving up the three practices Friday or do you have enough experience and knowledge that you feel you'll be able to catch up pretty quickly?
RYAN BLANEY:  I think we'll be okay.  We practice a little bit early, but it's close to when we'll race.  We'll get a good gauge of how the track is going to be.  The track will be rubbered in too from three practices the day before.  I think we'll be okay.  Like I said, that team has had good success there.  Brad won last year.  We actually had a really good run going there in the first race when I subbed for Joey.  It rained and we weren't very good after it rained.
Once you run that track a little bit, you know what it likes.  There's one big thing you got to get over, one big hump, that's the tunnel bump in one and two.  Once you get over that, that's the biggest hurdle you have to get over.  I feel like that team has been able to do a great job of being able to maneuver over that huge bump.  It's progressively gotten worse over the years, but they've come with a good package and talked about some things that hopefully will make that better.  Hopefully we'll be able to fire off pretty good.

Q.  Have you done this thing before, racing at two different racetracks and taking the airplane in between?
RYAN BLANEY:  No, I haven't actually done that before, I don't think.  But I did a bunch of double duty at the end of 2012 with the Truck and Nationwide car when Brad was running for the Cup championship.  I ran maybe five or six double duty weekends in a row.
I love doing double duty.  This is the first time I've raced at one track one day and then have to fly to another track the next.  It's pretty neat.  A different variety of racetracks.  That's cool.

Q.  How do you feel your debut went at Kansas?  Anything you learned or surprised you about your first Cup race.
RYAN BLANEY:  You know what, I thought practice went pretty well.  Took a little bit to get up to speed.  That racetrack is so treacherous, especially with the tires, just the (indiscernible) they bring there so they don't have any tire failures.  I don't think we had any blow‑outs.
It's so hard to get on the edge there, you don't know how hard to push it.  That racetrack is so fast with these new Cup cars, you're never off the throttle when you're by yourself in practice.  It's gauging how much throttle you have to use.
It feels like a Truck with 200 more horsepower is what it feels like.  That was tough to get ahold of.  Once we got that, we were good in practice.  Our first round of qualifying was good.  Didn't qualify as good as I thought we should have in the second round.
In the race, I gave us track position early just trying to stay out of trouble, trying to learn from guys, not put ourselves in a bad spot.  As the sun went down, we got the car a little bit better, we were able to move forward a little bit.  I think we drove up there, passed the 17 and the 78.  We were running pretty good.
Track position is so key in this new car, that racetrack in particular because it's so hard to move around.  Your car has to be really good if you want to run in the second lane.  You could see the 4 and 24 move up and still be really fast in traffic and everything.
By the end of the race, I thought we could do that.  We could move up and maneuver around lap cars.  We had to pit with maybe 15 to go or something like that.  Then we had that loose left rear wheel that slowly worked its way loose.  25 to 30 laps to finally feel.  That kind of hurt us.
I thought Jeremy and that whole team did great for their first Cup race.  The 22 Nationwide team, they did a great job of adjusting the car.  We progressively got better and better.  A shame we didn't get the finish we deserved.  I thought we could have finished 18th or 20th.
Looking forward to the next one in Talladega.  Definitely learned a lot.  You learn a lot running those races with those best guys, learn how to maneuver around with the cars, trying to find clean air.  It was a big learning curve and I was really fortunate I was able to do it.

Q.  Do you have a sense of who was more disappointed that you didn't get to race against each other, you or your dad?
RYAN BLANEY:  He was pretty bummed that they didn't make it.  They were pretty good in practice, but didn't get a chance.  I think the track took a bunch of rubber there before qualifying.  They weren't very good.
That sucked.  Hopefully we'll get a chance someday here.  Like I said, hopefully we'll get another shot at it.

Q.  What did you find more challenging at Kansas, running for championship points in the Truck Series or gaining experience in the Sprint Cup Series?
RYAN BLANEY:  That's tough.  I only accomplished one of those things.  I only gained experience in the Cup race.  I didn't run for points in the Truck race.  We ended up getting wrecked.  The Truck race was disappointing to end like that, getting loose under Joey, unfortunately spinning out.  We were going to be okay until they wrecked behind us, got us unfortunately.
Our Truck program is so good this year.  Ford has been a huge factor coming onboard more this year.  Also getting experience in our Cup debut, I think that was huge.  I was more happy with the Cup performance than I was with the Truck ending obviously.
Those Cup cars are so different than what we're used to in the Truck and Nationwide.  The drivers race so differently.  It was good to get that experience where you know what to expect in the next race that you do, the next Cup race.  There's things you can apply on the Cup car that you can apply to a Truck or Nationwide car, just how you race, certain things like that.  The Cup experience was definitely huge.
I didn't really know what to expect going in there of how everyone was going to race, how it was going to play out, just to get an idea of what it's going to be like.

Q.  What is your mental approach for this weekend driving at Charlotte and Iowa?  Is that going to be tough racing at two different tracks?
RYAN BLANEY:  Not really.  Like I said, I've done double duty before.  It's two tracks I've been on a few times before.  I like to think I have fair experience at Charlotte, ran there a couple times, Truck and Nationwide car.  Iowa, obviously I've been on a lot.
I think the mental preparation will be fine.  Like I said, hopefully we have a good Truck race and that will carry momentum into the Nationwide race.  Even if we don't have a good Truck race, go after that Nationwide race.

Q.  I wanted your perspective from this past weekend at Kansas.  What was it like working with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano as teammates?
RYAN BLANEY:  It was very cool.  I've been able to learn from them running the Nationwide stuff, the Truck stuff.  Being on the Cup level with them, hearing what they had to say, how differently they describe their racecar, differently than the Nationwide or Truck, it's cool.  You're able to take away a lot from that.  They were definitely a big help from that in getting me ready for this Cup race.
A whole bunch of other guys were putting in their two cents and helping me out.  I was fortunate to have a couple guys like Brad and Joey to help me out there.  Joey started off really young.  Kind of the route I took.  I'm really happy to have him with Penske.  He's done a really good job this year.  Just lucky to be a part of a great team with great drivers being able to teach me.
I think that's something special.  You don't see that a lot at other places.  They're open to teaching other guys.  It's astonishing.  Just fortunate to be here.

Q.  We hear all the time about how drivers like the Iowa Speedway.  What is it about the track that makes it so appealing?
RYAN BLANEY:  It's very racy.  You can have two, two and a half, maybe sometimes three lanes in there.  It has a bunch of character.  Drivers always talk about character of a racetrack.  Like I said earlier, especially with the tunnel bump in turn one, definitely has a lot of character.  You have to get your car really good to go over that bump.  Three and four are very racy from top to bottom.
The track constantly changes throughout the day.  It takes rubber.  Just a very cool racetrack.  I think it's the perfect size for a Nationwide and Truck race.  I think we've seen some of the best finishes over there.
I think it will be great if they can get a Cup race there within the next few years.  I think it would put on a hell of a show.  The racing part of it, makes it such a great track.
The fans out there, I think we always have sold‑out stands for Truck, Nationwide, and even the K&N.  To see that kind of dedication is pretty cool.

Q.  You talked about running with the 22 Nationwide team.  When you work with them, Jeremy, Andrea, your engineer, what are you relying on from them?  How are they helping your transition when you come over to the car, especially communication, talking with Andrea as the engineer?
RYAN BLANEY:  First of all, Andrea does an amazing job.  She's such a smart engineer.  We're lucky to have her.  She's brought great growth to the program, not only just the Nationwide program, but the Cup program also.  Fortunate to have her on our team.
That whole team in general does just a great job, Jeremy included, of getting drivers prepared for the weekend.  They have to adjust to three different drivers a year, last year four with A.J.
It's amazing they can adjust.  All the drivers don't like the car the same way.  Jeremy has to adjust to that.  That proves how smart of a guy he is to adjust the car to each driver's settings and getting each driver prepared for the weekend.
I'll show up there Saturday morning, they will have a whole list of what the car is like, what they have under the hood, what they think, how they pulled down, how they were at the test a couple weeks ago.  Definitely that preparation puts them over the top.

Q.  You talk about Andrea being a smart engineer.  For somebody who is not as smart as an engineer, like myself, how has she pushed things or helped you, from your perspective, with her background?
RYAN BLANEY:  For those of you who don't know, she was at NASA for a while before she came into racing.  Having that background is pretty impressive already.
Engineers, they just always think of things to make the cars go faster.  They always design new parts to make the car perform better.  Before it's body or mechanical grip, they're always thinking of new things.  She's brought a plus to all rounds of that table, whether it's designing new parts, the things I listed.
As I said, we have great engineers over there.  I know she's fairly new, only been there a few years, but she's definitely done a great job coming up with new ideas.  On the race weekend, she'll keep asking questions about changes.  She's so specific.  That's really good to have that over there.
Like I said, fortunate to have her.  She does a great job.  Hopefully she'll be there for a while.  I think she can definitely perform at the top level.
THE MODERATOR:  Ryan, great stuff, good answers.  Thanks for joining us today and taking the time.  We look forward to seeing you both at Charlotte and Iowa Speedway.
RYAN BLANEY:  Thank you.

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