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Ohio Life

3 Questions: Ryan Blaney

The Trumbull County native grew up in a racing family. We checked in with the NASCAR driver as he prepares for the 2019 NASCAR season to kick off.

Ryan Blaney’s first racetrack was the front yard of his family’s home in High Point, North Carolina, where he practiced his turns around a pair of trees in a quarter-midget car.

“There was a slope that went down to a pond. … If you messed up you would end up in there,” says Blaney, a native of Trumbull County. “Luckily, nobody ever had to fish me out.”

Growing up in a racing family, Blaney proved to be a quick study. During their time in Ohio, the Blaneys assisted with the track operation at Trumbull County’s Sharon Speedway, which is now owned by his father, Dave.

“It was a lot of fun growing up around a dirt track,” he says, “and it’s been really cool to see that place develop and grow.”

At age 25, Blaney is one of the rising young stars of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, which kicks off its season Feb. 17 with the legendary Daytona 500. Racing in Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford last year, Blaney qualified for the playoffs, earning a tenth-place ranking in the driver standings. He won the inaugural Bank of America Roval 400 in Charlotte and had eight top-five finishes.

Blaney talked with us about Daytona, the new wave of drivers and co-hosting a NASCAR podcast.

The Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of NASCAR. What makes the race so special?
The history behind it and what the race means to everybody who is in it. I remember going down there for a week to watch my dad race. It’s the first race of the year, so everyone is amped up. You can tell the fans are just as excited as we are for the season to start. The last couple of years I had really good chances to win. Last year, I was there at the end but got in a wreck. It’s so hard to close out the race there. 

You are part of a youth movement in NASCAR. How does it feel to go up against the veteran drivers? 
 There’s a pretty good mix of young guys and veterans out there. And there are some brand new guys coming in this year. It’s nice to be a part of it all. I don’t look at age … these guys are all racers. But it’s cool to race with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch — guys I grew up watching.   

During the season you co-host the NASCAR-supported weekly podcast “The Glass Case of Emotion.” What has that experience been like?
The main idea is that there are so many racing shows that cover the sport so well it would be cool to have drivers on who don’t have to talk about what they do. It shows a lot of the drivers’ personalities. We’ve had [Dale Earnhardt] Jr., Jeff Gordon and my dad on. It’s been cool to see how it has grown.  

For more information, visit ryanblaney.com.

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