As a long-time fan of the "Buckeye Bullet," Dave Blaney, dating back to his days as a World of Outlaws champ, I've been following the progress of his son, 18-year-old Ryan Blaney, as he moves up the ranks in auto racing. On Saturday night, September 15, the younger Blaney made a big move in NASCAR, winning the Camping World Truck Series' American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway in just his third Truck Series start.
Blaney was born into one of the top racing families in the northeastern U.S. and in dirt track racing. His grandfather, Lou Blaney, was a champion in both sprint cars and dirt modifieds, then became the owner of Sharon Speedway in Ohio. Lou's sons Dave and Dale also enjoyed success in sprint cars, with Dave winning the 1995 World of Outlaws title before moving on to NASCAR; Dale still races sprint cars.
Young Ryan Blaney began his assault on the racing world in the quarter midget ranks, winning his first feature at age 9. He progressed through the ranks of Bandoleros, Legends and Late Models, winning numerous races along the way. In 2011, he was the PASS South Super Late Model Series champion and made his debut in the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East and West.
2012 has been a busy year for Blaney, racing in the K&N Pro Series East for the family-owned DB Racing and the PASS Super Late Model Series, plus signing contracts with Tommy Baldwin Racing and Penske Racing for Nationwide Series races and Brad Keselowski Racing for the Truck Series. Blaney has four top 10 finishes in seven Nationwide Series starts this season, including a seventh-place finish at his debut in Richmond in April. In the Truck series, Blaney has never finished worst than 11th in his three starts.
With his win on Saturday night, Blaney became the youngest winner in the Camping World Truck Series (18 years, eight months, 15 days), a record previously held by Kyle Busch (20 years, 18 days - set in 2005). He also became the seventh first-time winner in the Truck Series this season, tying for the most first-time winners in one season (1995, 1997 and 1998), and the 12th different winner in the series this season.
Paula is a long-time NASCAR fan who also covers the sport at Examiner.com and Skirts & Scuffs.