Blaney Joins Wood Brothers

Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney will drive in at least 12 Sprint Cup races next season for Wood Brothers Racing, the team announced Thursday. (Photo: Getty Images)

Calling it a “dream come true,’’ Ryan Blaney will drive at least 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup races for the Wood Brothers next season.

The team also announced Thursday that it will form a technical alliance with Team Penske.

Among Blaney’s 12 races next season are the Daytona 500 and events at Las Vegas, Texas, Talladega, Charlotte, Michigan and Indianapolis. Motorcraft and Quick Lane return as sponsors.

Blaney also will compete in the Nationwide Series for Team Penske next year, although the number of races has not been determined.

“I think we’re taking the right steps and not progressing too quickly,’’ Blaney said. “Sometimes you can make that mistake of maybe moving up the ranks too fast and maybe it takes you a few years to really get situated in the Cup series. Being able to run a couple of years in the Truck series, being able to run a lot of Nationwide races and now a couple of Cup races this year I think has really prepared for this next season.’’

The 20-year-old Blaney will get an early start with the Wood Brothers this weekend. He’ll practice and qualify the team’s car Friday and Saturday for Trevor Bayne, who is competing in the Nationwide event at Mid-Ohio. Bayne will return to drive the car in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race.

Blaney, who made his Cup debut for Team Penske at Kansas Speedway in May, is scheduled to make his second career Cup start for the team in October at Talladega Superspeedway.

Blaney’s move to the Wood Brothers is not surprising. He’s the top development driver in the Ford camp ready for a Cup opportunity. He gets this chance with Bayne moving from the Wood Brothers to Roush Fenway Racing next season in Cup.

Blaney is affiliated with Team Penske. He leads the Camping World Truck Series standings for Brad Keselowski Racing and has competed in select Nationwide races for Team Penske, winning at Kentucky last year.

Tim Cindric, president of Team Penske, said this arrangement allows Blaney to get more time in a car than if he was just driving for Penske.

“Ryan has been a big part of our organization the past couple of years,’’ Cindric said. “As we were trying to figure out the next steps in his career, Eddie and Len (Wood) reached out to us.’’

As they talked, the idea of an alliance also was broached.

“It’s something a bit foreign to us,’’ Cindric said of a technical alliance. “It’s not something that we’ve done in the past. We’ve been approached in different ways. Our answer has usually been we’ve got enough to focus on in our place.

“As we talked about this more and more, it made more and more sense collectively. It’s going to be a learning experience for us. We’re certainly focused on not only ensuring that Ryan has the tools to be successful and continue his career, but ensuring that the Wood Brothers have everything that we have.’’

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