|Penske Racing's Tim Cindric|
“He’s someone we’ve had our eye on for a while,” said Cindric. “He has obviously had some good results, and he’s got a great pedigree. As we look at things going forward, we have to evaluate some of these young guys. We have two good young guys (already) in our camp, and Parker Kligerman and Dakoda Armstrong who we’ve had our eye on for a while. To a certain extent, you can’t have too many of these guys, so we’ve decided to give (Blaney) a shot.”
He said that while Blaney’s signing means fewer Nationwide Series races for Kligerman this season, it is not an indication that the team has shifted focus.
“(Kligerman) is still going to run Chicago for us next week,” he said. “We have a lot invested in Parker and he’s done a good job for us. He’s won a lot of ARCA races for us, and sat on the pole in his first-ever Nationwide race. He’s achieved a lot, but when we sat down and talked with him at the beginning of the year, he knew Brad Keselowski was going to run about 20 (Nationwide) races for us in the No. 22 and Jacques Villeneuve was going to run a couple of the road courses. Beyond that, there were really no promises. Parker knew he would have some opportunities, but he also knew we might put someone else in the car.
“The game didn’t really change, it just evolved.”
Cindric said Blaney has “a good mentor in his father,” Sprint Cup Series veteran Dave Blaney. “Being around them the last few weeks, he certainly doesn’t `baby’ Ryan, that’s for sure. He’s making his kid tough, and that’s the way they need to be.
“I feel like Ryan’s on the right track,” said Cindric. “There are a lot of people talking about him right now, and in the Nationwide Series, if you don’t have a Cup driver, you’d better have someone that’s attractive to sponsors. Not to say Parker’s not, but when you listen to the noise that’s being made out there about people that are non-Cup drivers and not yet winning races, Ryan’s name is right there at the top of the list.
“At the end of the day, our responsibility is to make sure we have solid sponsorship to continue our program, and Ryan is one of the guys who is attracting that right now.”
Cindric also said he is surprised that a test of driver AJ Allmendinger’s “B sample” will not take place until early next week, adding, “We want closure as fast as anyone else in this situation.” He said he has not spoken with Allmendinger about the process, because “this is really between AJ, his group and NASCAR. There’s nothing we’re going to do to prod it along, he said. “There’s more at stake than whether he runs the next race or not. Our stance is that his career is on the line in a lot of ways, and that it’s best that he handle that without any pressure from us.
“We thought we’d have some closure at least by the end of this week,” he admitted. “But if that’s the way the process works, we’re prepared to deal with it going forward and see how it all turns out.”
Characterizing Allmendinger as someone who has “one more pitch left,” Cindric said he understands the importance of proceeding cautiously. “He has to be sure he makes all the right decisions and puts the right processes in place. If it was me in that position, I’d make sure all my I’s were dotted and my T’s were crossed. I would want to understand exactly what I was up against, and what the processes and procedures were.
“AJ is first class,” Cindric said. “After Brad won the Nationwide race (in New Hampshire), AJ was the first person to text me and say how happy he was for the team. He’s continuing to get stronger on his front, and trying to get through this the best he can.”
Photo Credits: LAT Photographic, ryanblaney.com