LAFAYETTE, Ind. â Just ahead of his race in the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis on Sunday, NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney visited employees of Wabash National and held a private meet and greet with racing fans.
Blaney, 25 and his team are the second sponsorship for the manufacturing company, after getting its feet wet sponsoring Brad Keselowski last year. Wabash National began to sponsor drivers because of longtime customer Roger Penske, a team owner and legend in the racing world.Â Thatâs also how Wabash National connected with Blaney, who drives for Team Penske and is in a primary sponsorship deal with Menards.
Blaney is the son of NASCAR driver Dave Blaney and the grandson of modified and sprint racecar driver Lou Blaney. He began racing when he was eight and said growing up around the sport helped develop a lifelong passion for competition.
Along with meeting Blaney, 175 tickets to the Brickyard 400, the annual 400-mile Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event,Â were given to Wabash National employees. Sunday will be Blaneyâs fourth time racing the Brickyard 400.
Touring facilities like Wabash National and meeting the people behind the jobs is something Blaney said he takes great pride in doing. He enjoys seeing how operations in the plant flow, comparing it to his own experience having a race team.
The sponsorships themselves, which toÂ some may seem like just another sticker on a race car, is a part of the job that Blaney said he takes very seriously.
âWe want a personal connection with the companies we work with and are on the race cars, whether it’s Wabash (National) or Menards,â Blaney said. âYou always want to see how they operate. Everyone is so welcoming, and the hospitality has been great, especially today. Iâm looking forward to the future as well.â
He called driving under Team Penske a âhuge honor.â Penske Racing has won the Indianapolis 500 18 times, the most victories of any team in auto racing.
Blaneyâs sponsorship by Wabash National isnât just about having the sticker on his car, Tom Rodak, vice president of corporate marketing said.
âItâs a platform for us to create relationships with racing, and to work to build those relationships.â Rodak said.
Looking forward to the Brickyard 400, he said he was anticipating the race, even though he already has a spot secured in the playoffs.
âWeek to week, you try to do the best you can,â he said. âI do the best of my abilities to drive the car, and everyone else does their job the best they can, and we just see what happens.â
Emily DeLetter is a news reporter for Journal & Courier. Contact her at (765)420-5205 or via email at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EmilyDeLetter.
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