When Ryan Blaney broke into the NASCAR Cup Series as a full time driver with Wood Brothers Racing in 2016, he did so with very high expectations placed on him. And in just his second season driving the No. 21 car, the High Pont, NC resident appeared to be well on his way to living up to those expectations after he scored his first career victory at Pocono Raceway.
As a matter of fact, Blaney was moved from the Wood Brothers, which serves as somewhat of a subsidiary operation for Team Penske, to the No. 12 Ford with the Roger Penske-owned primary team.
Certainly, Blaney’s career has not been a disappointment by any stretch of the imagination. In his first season with Team Penske, the now 29-year-old driver won the inaugural race held on the Charlotte Roval for his new team. Surely more wins and contention for championships would be forthcoming. And to some degree that has been true.
Starting with his 2017 win, he went on a string of posting one win per year for four consecutive seasons. While many drivers would love to be able to say they had scored four wins over the course of four seasons, for a rising star with high expectations, more was expected by many followers of the sport.
Then in 2021, the driver showed that he could win more than one race per season when a breakout appeared to have taken place as Blaney scored three victories over the course of that campaign. However, that effort was followed up with a winless season one year later.
Another of those hot and cold statistics regarding Blaney’s career is the fact that he has qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs in each of the past seven seasons. However, his win on Sunday in the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville locked him into the Championship 4 for only the first time in his career.
Next Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, Ryan Blaney will do what many thought he would have done already multiple times by this point in his career- race for a championship. Perhaps this will be the first of many.
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