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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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FOS With Ryan Blaney: NASCAR Champ Talks Netflix, Racing Changes

  • NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney speaks to FOS about winning the 2023 Cup Series.
  • Blaney was a major focus of the new Netflix series ‘Full Speed.’
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Blaney, who won his first NASCAR Cup Series championship last season, is hoping to start his title defense in 2024 with another first this weekend, by becoming a Daytona 500 winner. Ahead of the 66th running of The Great American Race on Sunday, Front Office Sports caught up with Blaney to talk about becoming one of the sport’s best drivers, and how he’s capitalizing on the newfound stardom. Below are excerpts from the conversation, some of which have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

On the profits of winning last season’s championship

Away from the track, it was really neat to open up some doors, whether it’s in other realms of sports or entertainment. It’s always nice to meet athletes from other sports and share something with them, if they’ve won championships in their respective sports, and pick the minds of other folks who’ve achieved something like that. I always find that pretty fascinating. It’s good to grow your name. I always try to look down the road, when I’m not racing anymore, what am I going to do? It’s a privilege to accomplish something in your sport that gives you an opportunity to meet some really neat people that you can have some personal ventures with. It just comes with the title.

On filming Full Speed, Netflix’s new docuseries following the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

I enjoyed having Netflix around. We’re used to having cameras around, so it wasn’t too much. But they were very, very involved. And I tried to open up as much as I could. I was pretty lucky to have them film me—like in the motorhome after a couple wins. I thought this will be cool to see—the come down off of the high from winning, having a couple beers in the bus and just talking about the race. It’s nice to show what our lives are like. Some are more glamorous than others. I would say I try to keep it as least glamorous as I can. I’m looking forward to, hopefully, filming more. If they do the second season, I don’t know if they film the whole year—36 weeks is a long time—but maybe you do a couple months leading up to the playoffs. Those are stressful times, too.

On what he would change about NASCAR

I never would have thought a handful of years ago that we’d ever run around the streets of Chicago. We did that last year, and I think that’s cool. It brought a whole new audience to the sport and people loved it. So, I think doing some more of that is good. You have to stick to our roots, in the main way, but branching out and doing that stuff is really good. Personally, from a driver’s perspective, I’d like to maybe have one or two more weekends off throughout the year, instead of going four or five months straight, having one break, and then four or five months again. But that’s a personal vendetta I got. I think expanding to these new areas and audiences is super important. That’s how you continue to grow, but it’s getting harder and harder to appease people nowadays. I feel like it’s harder to grab people, and that’s across the board.

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