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AUG 15, 2014 | Brooklyn, Michigan

Blaney Ready To Join Cadre Of Rising Young NASCAR Drivers In Sprint Cup

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Wood Brothers Racing announced Thursday (Aug. 14) that Ryan Blaney will be the driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and in addition will practice and qualify the car this weekend in Michigan to assist Trevor Bayne, who will race the car Sunday after his Nationwide duties in Mid-Ohio. Eddie and Len Wood, along with Blaney, met with members of the mediaFriday at Michigan International Speedway to discuss the change and the teams alliance for 2015 with Team Penske.

RYAN BLANEY, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion -- YOU ARE GOING SPRINT CUP RACING NEXT YEAR AND YOU HAVE DOUBLE DUTY THIS WEEKEND WITH THE TRUCKS. YOUR THOUGHTS? “I am very excited to be able to race for the Wood Brothers next year. They have been so great to me with the week and a half that I have been over there. The history of this team is very special and being able to drive for this team is special and a dream come true. Thank you Eddie and Len for giving me a chance and Motorcraft and Quick Lane for being behind it. I am really excited for next year. I am excited to get the day started. I will be practicing and qualifying the car for Trevor and I am excited to see what we can do.”

WHAT DID BRAD (KESELOWSKI) SAY WHEN YOU TOLD HIM? “He is very happy. That is what he invested in back in 2012 when I started driving for his truck team. That is what the truck team is for, to build you up to eventually go Nationwide and Cup racing. He was happy and I want to do as much as I can for him next year and drive in the truck also and keep helping that program out. I owe a lot to Brad and he gave me a big opportunity to get started in NASCAR so I owe him a lot and I want to keep racing for him and try to keep winning races for that team.”

EDDIE WOOD, WOOD BROTHERS RACING -- CAN YOU COMMENT ON THE NEWS YESTERDAY AND HAVING RYAN IN THE CAR THIS WEEKEND? “We are very excited about it. Ryan was our choice from really day one when Trevor announced he was moving over to the 6 car full time. That was the plan all along when he got in our car. Actually it is kind of the same scenario that will play out with Ryan. We will have a new alliance with Team Penske next year and that lines up with Ryan. We are really happy and excited about it and kind of like Ryan, we are anxioius to get started next year.”

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED -- WHAT WILL BE THE MOST DIFFICULT PART FOR YOU THIS WEEKEND? “Just that I have never been to Michigan before in a Cup car. I have run an ARCA and Truck race here but they are so different. Trying to get adjusted to this car as quickly as possible will be the most challenging part. I think we have -- we are very fortunate nowadays to have a lot of data to look at throttle traces and everything like that. We are kind of spoiled and I can look at that from Brad and Joey’s car in the first race here and kind of apply that over. Working with all the guys on a new team and being able to communicate well with them might take a little bit but I think we will sort it out here by the first practice and be ready to qualify and practice tomorrow.”

HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THAT YOU FOCUS ON YOUR GOAL OF WINNING THE TRUCK TITLE THIS YEAR WHILE ALSO MAKING SURE YOU ARE READY FOR NEXT YEAR? “I think you have to separate each series from each other and having a different mindset in each series. I am really focused on trying to get this car good for Trevor forSunday and hopefully help the Wood Brothers have a great run. That is my goal but at the same time we have a really big race on the Truck side. I don’t want to talk about that much because this is about the Wood Brothers right now but it is awesome to have Cooper Standard and everyone sponsoring the Truck race and most of my focus is on that truck and trying to win a championship there. At the same time, I can get ready and focus for next year with the Cup car and still run the Nationwide cars also.”

IN A COUPLE WEEKS YOU GO ROAD RACING IN THE TRUCK SERIES, HAVE YOU DONE ANY ROAD TESTING IN THE TRUCK YET? “No, not yet. I think we are going to go to Kershaw here in the next week or so and just shake down a truck but we have a good idea of what we need to be better this year from last year. The first year it was kind of tough not really knowing what you need but I think we have a great plan going back and I am really excited to get back on a road course. I really like road course racing and hopefully we can have a great run in the truck.”

EDDIE WOOD CONTINUED -- HOW DO YOU LIKE THE PART TIME SCHEDULE AND DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO CHANGE THAT? WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE BACK FULL TIME IN CUP? “Obviously you would like to race every week like everybody else does but just the way things worked out we are really happy to still be a part of it. We have a lot of really great people looking for extra sponsorship for next year as well as this year but really for next year. Hopefully we will have -- I don’t see us going back full time next year at all but we could add some races for sure.”

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED -- WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO KNOW THAT THE DEVELOPMENT SERIES OF NASCAR COMING THROUGH WITH YOU AND KYLE LARSON AND CHASE ELLIOT IS COMING THROUGH AND YOU GUYS ARE THE FUTURE OF THE SPORT? “It means a lot to be a part of that young group that is coming up. Being able to race with all those guys, and I raced with a bunch of them when I was a kid. I raced with Chase and Jeb (Burton) and Daryl (Wallace Jr.) when I was a kid. It is cool to see us all moving up through the ranks and I hope we all have full time rides on Sunday one day. I am very fortunate to be a part of it and it is a very good thing.”

EDDIE WOOD CONTINUED -- IN TERMS OF THE TECHNICAL ALLIANCE WITH PENSKE, IS IT DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOU GUYS HAD WITH ROUSH? “Right now we have an alliance with Roush Fenway and that includes engineering, cars and everything about it. It will be a similar situation with Team Penske. The difference will be that Team Penske has never done this before. This is new to them. That will be a work in progress to figure out how to do everything. It is going to be a similar situation.”

THEY SUPPLY THE ENGINES BUT HAVE NEVER DONE CARS AND CHASIS? “All the engines are from Roush Yates, all of that will be the same. That won’t change. But the alliance is similar.”

YOU’VE HAD VETERAN DRIVERS IN THE CAR AND LATELY WITH TREVOR AND NOW RYAN YOU HAVE YOUNG UP AND COMING DRIVERS. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT AND THE POSSIBILITIES WHEN YOU PUT A YOUNG DRIVER LIKE THAT IN THE CAR? “You know, youth seems to be what it is all about. We’ve been fortunate to have had Trevor starting at age 20 and Ryan is 20, so maybe that is the number for us. We had really good results and relationship with Trevor and I can see the same thing with Ryan. I have known Ryan’s dad since he came into the sport and it is a really grounded family. It is a racing family, as are we. We grew up racing, not on the driving part but the other side of it. Ryan has grown up as a driver racing everything so it is a lot of fun. Kids are fun. I have grandkids now and kids are the coolest thing.”

WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE TO FORMING AN ALLIANCE WITH PENSKE AS OPPOSED TO DOING IT ON YOUR OWN? “It is really hard with as technical as Cup racing has gotten over the last few years with fuel injection and everything like simulation and all that is involved -- you just can’t do it by yourself as a single team, a small team or however you want to say it. We have tried to do that. We were doing stuff on our own when we formed the alliance with Roush Fenway when Trevor came on board. We could do fairly well. We could qualify okay but you just couldn’t finish it off. So you have to be a part of something bigger and it has worked really well with what we have with Roush Fenway and of course Trevor was a development driver for them and now that we have Ryan and he is a development driver for Team Penske, it just makes sense to be a part of their alliance.”

WILL YOU GUYS DO ANY TESTING WITH RYAN BEFORE DAYTONA NEXT YEAR? “We haven’t gotten that far yet and I don’t really know what the rules and testing policies will be. I don’t think they have announced them for next year yet. We will be thinking about all that but we haven’t gotten that far yet.”