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December 30, 2023

Ryan Blaney 2023 season in review


Ryan Blaney kisses the NASCAR Cup Series trophy in Victory Lane.

Season in review: Ryan Blaney
No. 12 Team Penske Ford
Crew chief: Jonathan Hassler
Final 2023 Ranking: 1st
Key stats: 3 wins, 8 top fives, 18 top 10s, 562 laps led

How 2023 ended: There’s an old saying in NASCAR that sometimes you save the best for last, which was the case with Blaney in 2023. He won (Talladega Superspeedway and Martinsville Speedway) or finished runner-up (Homestead-Miami Speedway and Phoenix Raceway) in four of the season’s final six races, plus sixth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and 12th at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course. He also started the playoffs with ninth and 12th-place back-to-back finishes at Darlington Raceway and Kansas Speedway, respectively.

Best race: Even though he won three races in 2023 — including leading 163 of the 400 laps en route to victory in the Coca-Cola 600 (the longest race of the season) — none of Blaney’s wins were more crucial than his dominating victory (led 145 of the race’s 500 laps) in the fall playoff race at Martinsville, which assured Blaney would advance to the Championship 4 round the following week at Phoenix Raceway.

Other season highlights: Blaney has won at least one race in six of his eight full-time seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series. Ironically, the 2023 champ failed to win even one race in 2022 (he was also winless in 2016).

Stat to know: Blaney won the 2023 Cup championship after earning the fewest top-five finishes (8) since an equal amount in 2018. While Blaney equaled his single-season best for wins (also in 2021), his 562 laps led were only the fourth-most he’s earned in a season during his Cup career.

Quotable: “I don’t really expect to be treated any different. I’m still the same person. We just accomplished something. I think that’s how everyone else wants to approach it. I can’t change how everyone else feels, but I think internally for you, you hold your head high, and you have a lot of confidence going into Daytona – and in all of our group. My guys deserve to hold their heads high, too, going into L.A. and Daytona knowing what they’ve done the previous year, but then you’ve got to do it again. It’s a new year. Once it turns to 2024, ’23 is forgotten about, so you can’t really focus too much on what we did last year because living in the past is no good. You’ve got to turn your focus on ’24.” – Reigning NASCAR Cup champion Ryan Blaney on how being a champion will impact his reputation in the NASCAR garage.

Looking ahead: Blaney needs to have another season in 2024 like he had in 2023. But he also knows how quick and fleeting fame and success in the Cup Series can be as Team Penske teammate Joey Logano won his second Cup title in 2022 and failed to get past the second round in 2023. Still, look for Blaney to have yet another stellar season, having developed into one of the best young drivers (he turns 30 on Dec. 31) in the series.

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