NASCAR: Ryan Blaney in the Wood Brothers No. 21 for 2015


Trevor Bayne is stepping out of the Wood Brothers’ famous #21 in 2015 – and another promising Ford youngster, Ryan Blaney, is stepping in. Photo by John Boarman.

As the silly season goes bananas for where Carl Edwards will end up in 2015, we now know for fairly certain who will fill one of the most legendary seats in the Sprint Cup field for 2015 – young Penske star Ryan Blaney, according to sources at today. An official announcement is due to arrive around August 17th at Michigan.

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The Wood Brothers are developing a pedigree in their old age as the ideal place for young Ford drivers to get Cup experience, and were catapulted back into the big time with Trevor Bayne’s epic victory in the 2011 Daytona 500 – in just his second Cup start. Three years on and Jack Roush, having overseen Bayne’s development at the Wood Brothers and full-time in Nationwide, has decided the time is right for Bayne to go full-time in the Roush Racing fold.

Since the announcement, all sorts of names have been linked with the role, most prominently Sam Hornish Jr, who seems to have been knocking on the door for a return to Cup for many years. But with the Wood Brothers’ unbreakable ties to Ford, and with Roush’s current crop of youngsters in Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher a little too green for Cup action just yet (both making their full-time Nationwide debuts this year), that then put Blaney in the frame. The son of Cup veteran Dave Blaney has been making a big impact, taking a Nationwide victory last season and 3 top tens…in 3 starts.

That’s ignoring his stellar Truck record, and his current status as title challenger against the Kyle Busch Motorsports juggernaut as part of Brad Keselowski’s Truck operation.

The more you look at Blaney Jr’s stats, the more you realise that we could have a major star on our hands. And it’s evident that both Penske and Keselowski (a Cup champion himself, let’s not forget) think the same way.

And whilst a part-time Cup schedule works out just fine for Blaney,  and for Penske to give his number 1 development driver some seat time, it also could see a resurgence for the historic team who co-dominated NASCAR back in the 1960s and 70s alongside the #43 of Richard Petty. In the mid-2000s the team became something of a retirement home for ex-Cup stars like Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader, but seem to have found more success recently by scaling back from a full schedule and becoming a driver development stable for Ford’s promising youngsters. And with this deal comes an alliance with Team Penske – by far and away the strongest Ford team in Cup racing right now. With the likes of JTG Daughtry Racing and Furniture Row Racing experiencing success in recent years as satellite/alliance teams to bigger Cup operations, this could be a very strong coup for Glen and Leonard Wood.

Keep one eye on the legendary gold #21 car – they might have a few more days in the sun left in them, and certainly their newest employee has a lot to offer the Cup grid.