The NASCAR silly season is in full effect. As previously rumored, Team Penske is tooling up to three full-time cars for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The third ride will be piloted by Ryan Blaney.
Team Penske’s third car will be the No. 12 Ford Fusion. Blaney, 23, igned a multi-year contract extension with the team, and will drive for the team beginning with the annual non-points “Clash” event at Daytona International Speedway in February of 2018.
“For some time now, we have wanted to bring Ryan in to run a third car for us, but things just needed to make sense from a timing and business perspective,” said Roger Penske.
“We have been working on making this a reality and 2018 is the right opportunity to make this move and return our organization to a three-car team. The benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood Brothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.”
With Blaney leaving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, Paul Menard will come with Menards sponsorship to the No. 21 for the 2018 season.
Blaney made his MENCS debut three years ago for Team Penske and has driven with Penske partner Wood Brothers Racing full-time the last two seasons. Blaney earned his first-career Cup Series win earlier this season at Pocono Raceway, giving the Wood Brothers team its first MENCS win since the 2011 season. Blaney also scored his first Cup Series pole this season at Kansas Speedway. He finished second in the 2016 MENCS Rookie of the Year standings.
“This is a huge opportunity for me and my career,” said Blaney.
“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.”
Team Penske will make announcements around sponsorship and the No. 12 crew chief at a future date.
Things are pretty set for the Ford-backed team for the future. Earlier this season, the team announced a multi-year contract through the 2022 season and beyond for No. 22 driver, Joey Logano. Yesterday, Team Penske and No. 2 driver Brad Keselowski announced a multi-year agreement. With the addition of Blaney for multiple years, the team should have some stability and more opportunity for competitiveness in the coming seasons.
Source: Team Penske – Penske to Expand to Three-Car NASCAR Cup Team in 2018