MOORESVILLE, N.C. ‚ÄĒ No more Mr. Nice Guy? Well, Ryan Blaney may be ready to take Alice Cooper‚Äôs advice in exchange for his first trip to Victory Lane in 2019.
Known for being one of the more considerate drivers on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit, Blaney might need to add a pinch of edginess in order to break into the win column before the NASCAR Playoffs begin.
After an event held by Team Penske and BodyArmor, where Blaney hosted lunch and a question-and-answer session with more than 50 kids at the Mooresville, North Carolina, shop on Wednesday, the driver of the No. 12 Ford reflected on how his respectable racing manner has developed over the course of his career.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve always done the ‚Äėgive respect, get respect‚Äô type of thing,‚ÄĚ Blaney told NASCAR.com. ‚ÄúI‚Äôll race you how you race me. I‚Äôve never really wanted to move anybody out of the way for wins or spots, but sometimes you have to and there‚Äôs sometimes I look back on it and wish I had been more ‚Ä¶ mean and moved people out of the way sooner.‚ÄĚ
But that‚Äôs not Blaney‚Äôs technique. It never has been after learning tricks of the trade from his father, former Monster Energy Series driver and World of Outlaws champion Dave Blaney, also known for his clean approach. The Blaney style and charisma even dates back to grandfather Lou, while earning victories in the modified and sprint car ranks over his 47-year career.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve just never really grown up racing like that,‚ÄĚ Blaney said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs not how my dad or grandpa raced. That‚Äôs not really what I enjoy. But you might have to change up the way you drive. It‚Äôs not the thing of wrecking people all the time, but maybe being a touch aggressive. It‚Äôs just how this racing has to be nowadays. That‚Äôs what people enjoy.
‚ÄúMaybe I‚Äôll just start being more mean,‚ÄĚ he pondered. ‚ÄúI‚Äôll start being a jerk, but I don‚Äôt want to hear anybody complaining if I‚Äôm a jerk out on the race track.‚ÄĚ
During the race weekend at Michigan back in June, Stewart-Haas Racing‚Äôs Daniel Suarez shed light on just how much the driver etiquette on the race track has changed over the past handful of years with a focus on the new style of racing.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs just no more respect or polite drivers out there,‚ÄĚ Suarez said. ‚ÄúIf you‚Äôre polite, you won‚Äôt last.‚ÄĚ
Blaney agreed with the comments by Suarez but noted how it shouldn‚Äôt be taken in a negative way. It‚Äôs simply a product of the aerodynamics package amplifying a boldness that‚Äôs always been around.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs always been aggressive,‚ÄĚ Blaney said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just showing up a little more because this package lets you do that. It gives you the ability to go three- or four-wide racing, especially on restarts.‚ÄĚ
While Blaney is having a consistent regular season with six top fives and eight top 10s, he feels he‚Äôs been on the receiving end of bad luck that has prevented his Team Penske squad from achieving victory.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs easy to blame luck, but some days I‚Äôve felt really unlucky,‚ÄĚ Blaney said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs just kind of how racing goes.‚ÄĚ
Blaney believes the team has been doing everything in its control to give it a fighting chance, but the potential not matching the results is where the frustration lies as the postseason nears.
‚ÄúIf we do the best of our abilities and if the very best we can do is third or fourth, you have to be proud of that,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI know the best of our abilities is winning races. We‚Äôre really close.‚ÄĚ
Sitting 11th in the regular-season points standings with six races remaining before the 16-driver playoff field is set, Blaney heads into the Pocono race weekend with a confidence that stems from the speed in the car in the season‚Äôs first trip in June paired with the 2.5-mile track being the site of his first career victory in 2017.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm looking forward to it,‚ÄĚ Blaney said. ‚ÄúI thought our car at the first Pocono race was really good. ‚Ä¶ Obviously, we‚Äôd like to get in Victory Lane before the playoffs. Get some cushion and get locked in. We have a good points cushion, but you can have two or three really bad races and be biting your nails.‚ÄĚ