Ryan Blaney, the driver of the No. 12 Ford at Team Penske, is set to race at the 2023 Daytona 500. Blaney has twice finished runner-up in the Daytona 500 and was fourth in last year’s race. He’s also won a series-high three of the last 13 races at Daytona and Talladega, which can be traced back to his time at Penske, where he listened to Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski break down races at Talladega and Daytona.
Learning from the Best
Blaney’s success at these tracks can be attributed to what he learned from Keselowski and Logano, who each have their unique approaches to speedway racing. While Keselowski is now a driver/owner at RFK Racing, he built a legacy at Team Penske. That organization has won at least one race at Daytona or Talladega each season for the past nine years. No other Cup team can match that in the same time.
Logano continues Keselowski’s legacy, followed by Blaney and Austin Cindric, the reigning Daytona 500 champion. Logano starts third after winning his qualifying race Thursday. Cindric is sixth. Blaney starts seventh. Blaney absorbed the lessons and took in the information from Keselowski and Logano, who are both calculating and aggressive at Daytona and Talladega. But each driver has his own style.
“You can’t model yourself after somebody,” Logano said. “You can maybe look at what they’re doing and try to add the good things to what you are, but the bottom line is I’m not Jeff Gordon. I’m not Tony Stewart. I’m not Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. You just have to kind of figure it out. It’s different for everybody.”
Blaney’s Success at Team Penske
Blaney has done precisely that, first when he was at the Wood Brothers, an affiliate of Team Penske, from 2015-17, and then at Penske after 2018 when he moved over to the No. 12 car. Blaney saw Logano and Keselowski win seven of 16 races at Daytona and Talladega from 2015-18 before he won the fall Talladega race in 2019.
Keselowski says the credit for Team Penske’s success at those tracks goes to many. “I think all of the drivers came together and really brought something to the table, but I think there was a huge cultural transformation that I was a part of, for sure, that went from, ‘Hey, speedway races are just where we go to wreck four cars a year,’ to ‘Hey, let’s go here and try to win the race,'” Keselowski said.
The Importance of Evolving as a Driver
Blaney has gained a valuable insight over the years: the need to constantly evolve as a driver. He emphasized the importance of shaking things up and keeping people guessing to maintain a competitive edge. Blaney stressed the need for unpredictability, as making good moves isn’t enough if your opponents can anticipate them and easily block you. Even when you think you’re performing well, it’s crucial to keep evolving and improving.
Blaney, along with Logano, is among the favorites in this year’s Daytona 500. With his unique style and impressive track record, he is looking to carry Penske’s speedway success into a Daytona 500 win.