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June 10, 2020

Ryan Blaney

Ridgeway, Virginia

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by tonight's runner‑up, Ryan Blaney, driver of the No.12 Menards Cardell Cabinetry Ford for Team Penske.
Ryan, walk us through that. A very interesting race from start to finish.
RYAN BLANEY: It was a very interesting race. We started off really bad. I mean, we went from starting on the pole to being a lap down in 60 laps. That's kind of tough to do. We found a way to do that. We already dug ourselves a hole early.
We pitted. Actually after the first pit stop, we got our car a lot better, a lot better. I think just the green racetrack didn't really go well with what we had or something. We really wore our tires out. I had to run the top a lot, was getting passed. I don't think that helped.
After that I felt more competitive. We got the Lucky Dog there right before the first stage end. After that we drove all the way up to second. We had a great long‑run car. That was great.
To be able to get the lead there at the start of the third stage, kind of biding our time, taking care of our stuff. Caution came out. We got a penalty on pit road. That set us all the way back again with not a lot of laps to go. We had 170 to go. Last restart we started ninth. 19 just got away from me. I couldn't run him down. By the time I got to second, he was gone. My stuff was a little worn out having to pass a lot of cars.
Overall really proud of the effort from the 12 group, from where we started to where we ended. I can always be happier, winning the race, but we made huge gains today. Atlanta was the same way. We didn't start off great, but we got a lot better very quickly. That just shows what this team can do. I'm really proud of everybody on this crew.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Ryan.

Q. Bubba encouraged NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag, been very vocal on issues. Have you seen this activism in him for years or do you feel there has been a change in him in the last few months?
RYAN BLANEY: I'll start off saying I'm really proud of what he's doing, the effort he's putting in, in wanting to kind of lead the charge. I stand behind him. A lot of guys stand behind him in NASCAR, not only the drivers, but a lot of teams, as well, crew members. The car he ran tonight was great. I loved that they were able to do that, came up with that idea.
As far as being an activist goes, I mean, not as much as he is now. He always has been. I mean, he and I, it's nothing‑‑ we've been really best friends for a long time. The way he and I have always thought growing up is everyone is equal. We always treat everyone equal no matter where you come from, what color you are. You treat people with respect, don't judge people.
I feel like he's taken a larger stand, just encouraging the cause right now, just wanting equality and understanding. I feel like he always has been one a little bit. But now in these times, I think it's great he's embracing it and leading the charge. I'm really proud and will stand behind him 100%.

Q. You talked about going to some protests in the last couple weeks. Do you think if you go now and people recognize you as a NASCAR driver that it means something that NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag?
RYAN BLANEY: Man, I went to one. It was last week. I was out in Charlotte, one was happening. I kind of joined in. You can't tell who anyone is, they got masks on, stuff like that.
I'm not a person who if I go to a peaceful protest, I'm not going to like boast it out that I'm there. You're there to learn. You're there to understand and talk to people. You're not there to say, Look, I'm here. I just want to go there and learn and talk people and support them as well.
I think it's great. I think a lot of people should check the peaceful protests out. You can learn a lot from people just talking and hearing their stories. Kind of where I stand on that.

Q. Is this a case where a winning car finished second?
RYAN BLANEY: I'd like to think so. I don't know. I haven't really thought of that, to be honest with you. Just the race happened. It's just the way it goes.
We had that penalty towards the end of the race. I thought the 19 and I were pretty even. I would have loved to line up beside him on the restart with 70 to go, whatever it was, and see what we could have done. But we'll never know. I thought we had a really good car.
I was never really close enough to see on equally worn tires to see what we had for him.

Q. How close do you feel you are to the first win? You talked about the improvements you made at Atlanta. How close do you feel you are to a first win this season?
RYAN BLANEY: Very close. I mean, I thought it was going to be tonight. You keep bringing speed like this every weekend, eventually you're going to find a little bit more and be able to win the race. We just got to keep doing what we've been doing. I think it's going to come soon, we just got to keep working really hard.

Q. This week you had Atlanta, tonight Martinsville, Sunday Miami. Seems like a lot of warm weather. Describe what this week has been like, what the potential toll is on a driver's body?
RYAN BLANEY: Yeah, I mean, it's tough. You get out and you're worn out, things like that. Atlanta was hot. Worked really hard at Atlanta. It's a long race. 500 miles is a long time.
Here obviously you're working hard. It wasn't cold here. Honestly, Miami will probably be the hottest one we go to, most humid.
Me personally, yeah, I got a little tired after the race. It's never been a big issue for me. You just hydrate like you normally do, eat well, try to maintain a good physical condition. I mean, I'd race every night if I could. That part's never gotten to me, getting tired or anything like that.
I think it's great that you're essentially having three races in a week, which is great for fans to watch. A lot of work on the teams. As far as personally physically, I'm all good.

Q. Because of your friendship with Bubba, you certainly have more of an inside view. What has the last week been like on him? He referenced in a short video before the race he hasn't gotten much sleep. From your perspective, what have you seen?
RYAN BLANEY: I mean, I saw him before Atlanta. Went over to his house I think last Saturday or something like that, sometime last week. We just hung out, ate some food, drank some beer, had a good time.
Yeah, we talked about some of the issues. Myself, him and our good friend Dillon Smith (phonetic) was over there. We talked about some stuff, things like that. Just kind of talking about what we think.
It was great for me to kind of see what they feel like in certain situations. I've never been in their shoes. I'm not an African American male. I can't relate to that. The best I can do is just learn about it, help out and understand.
But like I said before, I think it's great, the initiative he's showing and wanting to be a part of change, the right change. I feel like he's on his way, man. He's doing a really good job. I think he was on CNN the other night. He did a great job on that.
Like I said, I've just known him a long time and he's just Bubba to me. I think of him as a brother. It's good to talk to him, but I think he's definitely not getting sleep because he's so busy. It's good things, a good cause that he's striving towards.

Q. You mentioned the green track. You weren't the only ones off at the start. Was it the track? The tire? The lack of practice?
RYAN BLANEY: All of the above I think. With a new tire, no practice, green racetrack, some teams hit it, some teams didn't. Some teams actually never recovered from it. Some great teams never recovered from it. We were lucky that we did. Look at the 18 and the 11, they didn't recover.
I think it was just everything up in the air. If we would have had practice, even an hour practice, you'd realize what your car is going to do, especially on a green track.
I think all those things that you mentioned were a factor in it. But we were on the lucky side of we got to where we were a lot more competitive than where we started. It's just from a lack of knowledge, no knowledge about the tire or the racetrack or the conditions, what they're going to be.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, thanks for joining us. We'll see you at Homestead‑Miami Speedway.
RYAN BLANEY: Thank you. Have a good one.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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