NASCAR: Ryan Blaney eyeing future Indy 500 bid?

Ryan Blaney says that he “would love to” compete in the Indy 500 one day, and driving for IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, he could have a chance to make it happen.

There has been quite a bit of talk about NASCAR drivers running IndyCar races as of late, especially with seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson set to retire from NASCAR after this year and eyeing the opportunity to compete in open-wheel races.

Johnson even had a recent IndyCar test with Chip Ganassi Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course after having two previous tests canceled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney hopes that he can be one of those drivers by competing in the Indy 500 one day.

The 26-year-old driver of the #12 Ford has driven for Roger Penske’s organization for three seasons at NASCAR’s top level, and he signed a multi-year contract extension to continue doing so back in March.

Team Penske are one of only two teams, the other being Chip Ganassi Racing, that run teams in both IndyCar and NASCAR, and Penske purchased IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway ahead of the 2020 season.

So Blaney is well-positioned to compete in the Indy 500 at some point if that is something he opts to pursue.

He spoke with Beyond the Flag about the matter a few days before this year’s running of the race.

“I would love to run the 500 one day,” he said without hesitation. “That’s something I always either watched on TV or listened to on the radio as a kid, if I was going racing myself.”

He added how weird yet how big this year’s August Indy 500 is, given that it is the first under Penske’s ownership.

“It is a little bit weird, the Indy 500 this weekend, obviously with the funky scheduling that’s been going on this year with the virus and things like that. And it does stink that there are no fans that are going to be allowed at that race.

“But it’s going to be a big day for the Penske team, with Roger owning the speedway now. He has put a lot of work into that speedway. It was really cool to see the work he put in when we went there a month and a half ago, whenever it was.”

But Blaney doesn’t simply want to compete in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. He wants to become the fifth driver to run the Memorial Day Double, competing in the Indy 500 and then flying down to Charlotte Motor Speedway to compete in the Coca-Cola 600 as he normally would.

“I’d love to run the 500 one day, I would absolutely love to do the Double, do the 500 and then come back and do the 600 at Charlotte,” he said. “A handful of NASCAR guys have done that, and that’d be a really cool group to be in.”

Most recently, Kurt Busch ran the Memorial Day Double in 2014 to become the fourth driver to do it. The other three drivers who attempted it were John Andretti (1994), Robby Gordon (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004) and Tony Stewart (1999 and 2001).

Stewart is the only driver to run all 1,100 miles, doing so in 2001 with finishes of sixth and third place, respectively.

“I think if you ask any driver in motorsports, they’d love to run different cars to see the differences, see the similarities to them,” Blaney added. “And I got a pretty good team behind me that has a pretty great IndyCar program, so maybe one of these days I’ll be able to run it. That is something I’d love to do.”

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The 104th running of the Indy 500 is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET this afternoon.

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