Double-duty weekend brings a first for Blaney
May 13, 2014, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
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Ryan Blaney is no stranger to double duty, competing in two NASCAR national-series races in the same weekend. But he's never undertaken one like this.
The title contender on the Camping World Truck Series also has a Nationwide Series race on his schedule this weekend, and the two events are in separate time zones -- the Truck Series race is on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Nationwide race is on Sunday afternoon at Iowa Speedway. The big conflict comes Friday, when he'll miss three Nationwide practices in order to qualify and race in Charlotte, after which he'll jump on a jet owned by Brad Keselowski and head to the Hawkeye State.
It will mark the first time that Blaney, who drives for Keselowski in the Truck Series and will wheel a Team Penske car in the Nationwide race, has participated in double duty involving that kind of distance. Being 20 years old, naturally he's psyched.
"I haven't actually done that before, I don't think. But I did a bunch of double duty at the end of 2012 with the Truck and Nationwide car when Brad was running for the (Sprint) Cup championship. I ran maybe five or six double duty weekends in a row," he said on a teleconference with reporters. "I love doing double duty. This is the first time I've raced at one track one day and then have to fly to another track the next. It's pretty neat. A different variety of race tracks. That's cool."
It certainly has the potential to be, given that Blaney has race victories in both series, including his Truck Series breakthrough on the same Iowa track in 2012. Blaney will participate in two Truck practices Thursday, and will remain in Charlotte through the duration of the next day, which concludes with the race Friday night. Three Nationwide practices are slated for Friday in Iowa, and Blaney said there won't be anyone else driving his No. 22 car.
"Luckily, I think we have an hour session on Saturday morning to get a little bit of laps in it," he said. "Iowa Speedway had an open test there last week, early last week, because they put a bunch of patches around that race track. They had a handful of teams go up there. Brad went up with the 22 car and ran it a little bit. They have some laps on it. They got a good baseline for it. At least I'll have one practice Saturday, unlike last year where I just showed up for the race and subbed for Joey."
Blaney finished ninth last year in a rain-postponed Iowa race where he filled in for Penske driver Joey Logano, who had to scrap his Nationwide plans after the rescheduling placed the event on the same day as the Sprint Cup race at Pocono. Blaney will have a 90-minute final practice Saturday at Iowa, as well as group qualifying, before the race. Although he's running for the Truck title, Iowa shapes up as his better track.
"I think we'll be OK," he said. "We practice a little bit early, but it's close to when we'll race. We'll get a good gauge of how the track is going to be. The track will be rubbered in, too, from three practices the day before. I think we'll be OK. Like I said, that team has had good success there. Brad won last year. We actually had a really good run going there in the first race when I subbed for Joey. It rained and we weren't very good after it rained. Once you run that track a little bit, you know what it likes."
Blaney, who made his Sprint Cup debut in a 27th-place finish last weekend at Kansas, has one career Nationwide victory, at Kentucky in 2013. He fell to sixth in Truck Series points after spinning out at Kansas while battling Logano for the lead. Blaney has taken part in two previous national-series events at Charlotte, including the Truck event there last spring where he finished 25th. He's fared much better at Iowa, where he has two top-10s in Nationwide competition in addition to his Truck Series victory.
"It's two tracks I've been on a few times before," Blaney said. "I like to think I have fair experience at Charlotte, ran there a couple times, truck and Nationwide cars. Iowa, obviously I've been on a lot. I think the mental preparation will be fine. Hopefully we have a good truck race, and that will carry momentum into the Nationwide race."