Ryan Blaney comes under fire from Junior Nation after Phoenix race

Photo by Harold Hinson Photography

By Yvonne Jones, Staff Writer

FONTANA, Calif. — Ryan Blaney is feeling the wrath of Junior Nation.

This comes following the Camping World 500 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix last Sunday when Blaney was heard over his in-car radio referring to Dale Earnhardt Jr. as a “dick” because he thought the No. 88 driver was “holding up the line” of the lead pack.

The 23-year-old Blaney said he has already talked things over with NASCAR’s 14-time Most Popular Driver but he’s still paying the price.

“Him and I talked after the race,” said Blaney, driver of the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford.  “We are good friends, neighbors. He owns the land that I live on so strategically, that might not have been the best part for me to do that to him last week.”

“But we’re good. He’s a great guy, a great friend of mine.”

The second-year Cup driver said he hadn’t been on Twitter for a long time, but when he did on Sunday, the backlash was evident.

“I got on it Sunday after the race and was hated widely by a lot of fans,” Blaney said. “I’ve never had that before but that was something a little bit different. So I really didn’t get on social media for a few days.

“It doesn’t really bother me what people think as long as Dale and I are good – and we are.”

Blaney did apologize immediately on Twitter, but couldn’t escape the venom from Earnhardt’s fans. The young driver said he has even gotten flowers — yet to be delivered — for Earnhardt’s new wife, Amy, who tweeted on Sunday in response to Blaney’s derogatory radio comment: “well lil Blaney doesn’t get to come over and play for a while.”

Blaney is also learning first-hand how vicious social media can be.

“The social media side is good for the sport, it’s really good for what we do in giving fans an insight of what our daily lives are like throughout the race,” he said. “But sometimes it’s a burden and that’s just happen to be one of them.

“You get over, people forget. Dale and I are good like I said so hopefully it blows over.”

Now Blaney, one of the top young drivers in NASCAR, is bracing himself for the fan reaction during driver introductions for the Auto Club 400 on Sunday.

“I’m exciting for Sunday to see how many boos I’m gonna get. I’m pumped for that. I haven’t been booed before so I’m excited. It’s something new.”

 

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