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Team Penske Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 Race Preview

March 11, 2014




THE RACE    

Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway (.533-mile high-banked oval, Bristol, Tenn.)
Saturday, March 15, 2:00 pm ET    
 

The No. 22 Discount Tire / SKF Ford Mustang
Driver: Ryan Blaney    

 

THE NEWS AND NOTES

The No. 22 Discount Tire / SKF Ford Mustang

· BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN: Ryan Blaney will return to the seat of the No. 22 Discount Tire / SKF Ford Mustang for the first time since winning his first-career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race last season at Kentucky Speedway. Blaney made three NNS starts last year at Iowa, Kentucky and Homestead (in the No. 48 Ford); earning top-10 finishes in each start.

· THE START OF A BIG SEASON: The Bristol start will be the first of what will be a big year for Blaney in 2014.  The third-generation driver will compete in 15 NNS races with Team Penske and will also make his debut in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), running at least two events with the first coming at Kansas Speedway in May all in addition to his full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule with Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR).

· NO BRISTOL ROOKIE: Despite making his first NNS start with Team Penske at Bristol this weekend, Blaney is no Bristol rookie.  And he’s never finished outside of the top-10 at the half-mile in any series.  He’s got one NNS start at Bristol (finished seventh for Tommy Baldwin in 2012), two Truck starts (finished sixth and third for BKR) and one in the K&N Pro Series East (finished second driving for Dave Blaney Racing).

· THE 22 TEAM IS ROLLING ALONG:  Coming off their big win last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford, the defending NNS Owners’ Champion, is once again tied for the lead for the Owners’ title with its “arch nemesis” – the No. 54 team from Joe Gibbs Racing.
    

THE Q & A

RYAN BLANEY, NO. 22 DISCOUNT TIRE FORD

HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO FINALLY GET BACK ON THE TRACK THIS WEEKEND WITH TEAM PENSKE?

“It couldn’t come quick enough, especially with the break that we have going on right now in the Truck Series and not having another race until Martinsville.  But to get to be able to get back behind the wheel at a place like Bristol is a pretty big deal. Bristol is one of the biggest tracks that we go to in terms of popularity.  And it has some pretty good racing as well.  So I’m excited about it.  With the start of the season that Brad has had with Jeremy (Bullins, crew chief) and the guys, and coming off winning the race last weekend in Vegas, I keep joking with him (Brad) and thanking him for warming the Discount Tire Ford up for me.”

 
YOU’VE RACED AT BRISTOL PLENTY OF TIMES, BUT NEVER WITH TEAM PENSKE.  THOUGHTS ABOUT THE RACE?

“Thankfully, I do have a decent amount of track time there in various other types of cars. And I’ve always been able to have a little bit of success as well.  But it will be different with Team Penske. There is a little bit of added pressure there, because you know this is a team that can go out there and win on any given weekend with Brad and Joey. But I’m not going to worry about that. I just want to go out there, run our race and hopefully be in contention to win at the end.  I think that is a doable goal when it all comes down to it.”