AVONDALE, Ariz. – Ryan Blaney never wanted to leave Team Penske, so the announcement Friday that he had signed an extension to remain with the team was essentially a formality.
The 26-year-old racer confirmed in a media availability at Phoenix Raceway that contract talks between himself and Penske had been going on since the offseason. The three-time Cup Series race winner is now locked into a multi-year deal with Penske and he’s hoping it’s the start of a big year in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“I am really excited to get that out there,” Blaney said of the contract extension. “It is something that we have been working on for a little while through the offseason. It is nice to finally announce it and all that stuff. I am really excited to continue with the Penske group for years to come. They have been a great group to me. Mr. Penske, I don’t know that I could ever thank him enough. It is nice to continue with that whole team. I have met some great people along the way and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
Blaney has been a part of the Team Penske family since he was 18 years old when he made a handful of NASCAR Xfinity Series starts with the team. Since then he’s become one of NASCAR’s most popular competitors and is currently the Cup Series points leader after three events this year.
The North Carolina native, who ran his first two full Cup Series seasons for Penske affiliate Wood Brothers Racing in 2016-17, noted that he couldn’t imagine himself driving for another team owner at this stage in his career.
“I love the people I am around and working with all the teams. I feel like I owe so much to Roger (Penske) for what he has done for me,” Blaney said. “I just didn’t really see myself, right now, anywhere else. There are a couple doors open, a couple seats open with other teams but I didn’t talk with any other teams. If I was approached by another team I don’t even know if I would want to talk to them because I am so happy with where I am at and so loyal to Roger. My mindset was if they would have me back I would love to be back. It was great that both of our minds were set on that.”