DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Ryan Blaney has won one race per season the last three years.
A trip to Victory Lane is still a trip to Victory Lane — but the driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford would surely love to get over that hump and win multiple races on the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
He has an idea of how he can do that, too.
“I think just getting smarter as the race goes on,” Blaney said Wednesday at the Daytona 500 Media Day. “I think that is something that has hurt me and something that I have struggled with – maybe not thinking far enough ahead of how the track is going and changing things to be better at the end of the race. … A lot of races we fire off really well and then don’t end the race like we fired off. That is what I am talking about; the ability to pinpoint where you think things are going and get ahead of it.”
Blaney’s three wins came at Pocono Raceway (2017), Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval (2018) and Talladega Superspeedway (2019).
The 2020 slate starts with Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (race resumes Monday at 4 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), where Blaney averages a 23.8 finish in nine starts. His best result was a runner-up showing in 2017.
A big difference in the No. 12 stable this season, however, is crew chief Todd Gordon coming over from Joey Logano’s No. 22 team.
“I am excited to work with Todd,” Blaney said. “It has been really great so far. Maybe you think of things that you didn’t before because it wasn’t normal to you. It opens your mind a little bit to other areas you need to improve on.”
Blaney had only ever known Jeremy Bullins atop his pit box since he joined NASCAR’s premier series in 2015.
“When you get someone new, it changes things up and then you start thinking about things differently,” Blaney said. “We focus more on those things and also focus on what I know from the past.”
Bullins is now with Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 group. Keselowski’s old crew chief, Paul Wolfe, moved over to Logano. Team Penske made the switches back in early January.
Gordon helped command Logano to 21 victories and the 2018 championship. His history of success could be beneficial to Blaney and maybe teach him how to adapt during a race. That is where he wants to improve, anyway, in hopes of winning more races.
“You take what you learned from the previous experience, and you are learning new things,” Blaney said. “It just gives you a bigger bandwidth for knowledge, which is good.”