At just 21 years old, Ryan Blaney has put himself in the conversation as one of the best young drivers in NASCAR. With only a handful of races for Blaney this year, Roger Penske wants him to run a full-time season in 2016 with the Wood Brothers.
His first four races have been a bit of a roller-coaster ride with a top five, top 20 and two finishes of 39th or worse. But Blaney’s recent run at Talladega raised some eyebrows as he finished fourth and was contending for the lead late. Only running 18 races this year, that’s a strong start with over three-fourths of the schedule left.
He ultimately didn’t jump out of line to overtake Dale Earnhardt Jr. due to a lack of teammates, but the performance was no less impressive. Part of that great run was having Team Penske equipment and speed, as the team owner spoke about before the Sprint All-Star race.
“This is a partnership really with Woods’ people and ours,” Penske said , via Jenna Fryer of The Associated Press. “We’ve got the technology and the ability to build the right pieces for them. It’s like a brother-in-law.”
Currently at just two cars, Penske might potentially be able to fund a third team in the future—but he’s not ready to at this point. Having two young drivers in Brad Keselowski (31) and Joey Logano (24) running at a championship level, Blaney would be the perfect addition if he succeeds with the Wood Brothers over the next two years.
“I’d hope there can be an extension,” Penske said. “We’re going to run him in about 18 races, so if we can get sponsorship for him, that gives him a chance to take a look at extending that through a full season next year. That would be our goal.”
Blaney is clearly going places, and Penske wants to make sure he helps him arrive there. He may be just a development driver for now, but NASCAR fans can expect big things from this 21-year-old racer in the future.
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