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Ryan Blaney mentally prepares for Cup debut

May 08, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

Ryan Blaney will also attempt to qualify for the Cup Series race at Talladega in October

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Ryan Blaney isn't concerned about the physical demands of competing in Saturday night's 5-hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway.

It's the mental aspect that's gotten his attention.

"The biggest thing is to have (the) mental preparation; you know you're going to be in the car an hour and a half, two hours more than what you are in the truck race," Blaney, 20, said Thursday prior to Camping World Truck Series practice. "Just keeping your state of mind calm and focused for that long, that's the biggest thing. 

"These cars, with all the luxuries we have in them with nice power steering, nice seats, you don't get as physically worn out as much as you used to. It's just the mental side you have to prepare for. I think that's the biggest task, keeping your head on the entire race." 

Blaney will attempt to qualify the Team Penske No. 12 Ford in what would be his Sprint Cup debut here this weekend. He competes full-time in the NCWTS for Brad Keselowski Racing, and has made selects starts in the Nationwide Series for Team Penske. 

It's the first of two scheduled Cup attempts for this season – Blaney will also attempt to qualify for the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway in October. 

"You definitely have to have a different mindset (for a Cup race), it being pretty much twice as long as the truck race," Blaney said. "It's a whole different race, you have to pace yourself." 

Cup races can also have twice as many pit stop opportunities, allowing teams to work on the car more often during the course of an event.

"It's definitely something you have to get used to," he said.

Blaney is fourth in the Truck Series point standings after two races. The SFP 250 is slated for Friday night at Kansas Speedway. 

Dave Blaney, Ryan's father, will also be attempting to qualify for Saturday night's Cup race. The younger Blaney is hopeful both he and his father will be in the 43-car starting lineup. Neither team has a guaranteed spot in the field. 

"We ran the truck race at Eldora last year; he ran a little bit better than me in the race and we didn't get to run with him in the race," Ryan Blaney said. "But we ran a lot in practice together and that was a blast. 

"We've run a couple of smaller … dirt Late Model races against each other. I actually beat him for the win last year at a dirt Modified race somewhere (near) Watkins Glen. We were side-by-side off (Turn) 4 and we just edged him out. That was a lot of fun.

"To give him credit, I started second and he started like eighth or something. He came up through the field and was going to pass me if there had been another lap. I definitely gave him grief about it while I could."

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