Ryan Blaney to join Team Penske for 2018 Cup Season

Nigel Kinrade/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

After two years with the affiliate, Pocono Raceway winner Ryan Blaney is making the leap to the main team.

Team Penske announced Wednesday that Blaney, 23, will join the organization for a full Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series effort in a new No. 12 Ford entry. Blaney will join teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano to complete Penske’s lineup after moving over from Wood Brothers Racing (WBR) at season’s end.

“This is a huge opportunity for me and my career,” Blaney said in a press release. “I’ve always enjoyed racing whatever car I was in and trying to win each and every race. I’ve had some great moments with both Team Penske and the Wood Brothers over the last few years. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where I am today without Roger (Penske), Eddie and Len (Wood) and the opportunities their organizations have given me.

“I’m thrilled knowing that Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) are long-term teammates for me at Team Penske and Paul (Menard) will have input with our team now that he’s with the Wood Brothers organization. Hopefully we can go out there and win races and compete for championships year after year.”

Blaney came up through Penske and their affiliates, making his debut in the Camping World Truck Series with Brad Keselowski Racing en-route to a win at Iowa Speedway and making limited starts for Team Penske in the XFINITY Series. The High Point, N.C. native ran full-time in the Truck Series in 2013 and ’14, finishing second in the championship standings in his second year.

Team Penske was the first to field Blaney in the Cup Series with two starts in 2014. Blaney has since competed for WBR, running a limited schedule in 2015 before competing full-time over the past two seasons. He’s currently 12th in the points standings, all-but guaranteed a playoff debut after winning at Pocono in June.

“Ryan has certainly earned this opportunity with Team Penske,” Ford Performance global director Dave Pericak said. “We knew all along that his time with the Wood Brothers was dependent on adding another car at Team Penske, but what he has accomplished with the Wood Brothers is impressive and he has played a key role in returning the 21 car to victory lane.  Right now, we’re all committed to getting the Wood Brothers their 100th win and a season championship this year.”

The announcement comes after earlier contract extensions for both Logano and Keselowski. WBR later announced that Paul Menard will field their No. 21 Ford entry in the coming year.

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