Ryan Blaney, Rising Star in Nascar, Follows His Father’s Trail

“Like anything late in life, when you’re a rookie at something at 36 or 37, it’s not going to go very far,” Dave Blaney said in a telephone interview. “Even at my age, it was still odd to make the jump from sprint cars. That was pretty uncommon.”

Photo

Ryan Blaney (left) with his father Dave Blaney during qualifying in 2012.

Credit
Nigel Kinrade/Autostock, via Associated Press

Except for a 44-race stint in a Richard Childress car, Blaney drove for the lesser teams in the sport. Driving for Randy Humphrey Racing in 2014, Blaney qualified for only seven of 24 races and withdrew from the Daytona 500 after crashing his team’s only car in practice.

“I don’t think he got the shot he really deserved,” Ryan Blaney said.

But Ryan, who was born in Ohio and moved to North Carolina with his family when he was about 6, said he learned a lot from his father along the rougher road that he took.

“They were able to find ways to get to the racetrack that was just through hard work,” he said.

Dave Blaney still lives in North Carolina and has returned, part time, to racing sprint cars on dirt tracks, mostly in the Midwest. But he tries to attend as many of Ryan’s races as he can. Ryan has not won at the top level, but he has come close, finishing second at this year’s Daytona 500. He is 11th in the driver standings.

Dave remembers buying a go-kart for his son when he was 8 or 9 and thinking to himself, “At that age, they just want to have fun.” But Ryan turned serious about racing when he was a teenager, winning a lower-series race at 17 and pushing his way to the top.

Ryan seems grateful for the opportunity to drive for the Wood Brothers, as Pearson did for the second half of a career that included 105 race victories. Ryan likes to read up…

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