HARTFORD — Dave Blaney remembers the day, even though it seems like a blur.
His son, Ryan, was hired by Team Penske, and vaulted himself into one of the young stars in NASCAR.
Dave knows the struggles. He raced in the elite circuit for more than a decade, coming off a very successful career in sprint cars.
Brad Keslowski, who races for Team Penske, was instrumental in Ryan’s surge as there was an opening on his truck series team. It snowballed from there.
“That was all getting an opportunity in NASCAR, which is hard to do, unless you bring some kind of money into these,” Dave said. “There were several kids who did get opportunities. Then, the main part is taking advantage of that opportunity, if and when you get it. He was ready and he did.”
Ryan’s uncle, Dale, has is own perspective on the 24-year-old full-time stock car driver, who was in 10th-place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Standings, prior to Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Raceway in Florida.
Dale is aware there’s more to his nephew than a guy who puts on a fire-retardant suit and helmet and is buckled in hundreds of miles of turns around a national track.
It was a career formed at places like Sharon Speedway and around Ryan’s home in High Point, N.C.
“It’s awesome to see the name out there, what Dave created, what dad (Lou Blaney) created,” Dale said. “First of all he’s a great kid. Secondly, he’s a great race car driver. He’s doing well and I think he’s got a bright future.”
Jim Rasey of Southington, who races at Sharon Speedway and raced against Lou Blaney, Ryan’s grandfather, has seen Ryan when he was at the Hartford track.
Rasey has his own opinion about the NASCAR driver.
“I would say Ryan is a lot like him (Lou), calm and cool and he’s got that fiery instinct, just always fast,” Rasey said.
Ryan is a promoter of the sport, going as far as defending himself and other young drivers, who a NASCAR executive said were not winning more and building their brands like former stars Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and others.
More than being an advocate, Ryan is constantly promoting his brand to his loyal fan base. So much for an executive statement.
Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Ryan has those covered.
Dave, who is 55, scratches his head when asked about his son’s active presence on social media. It’s part of being a professional athlete nowadays.
“That part is weird to me,” Dave said. “Anybody my age, I’m sure it’s weird, too.
“He does a good job in that part of it. He works well with NASCAR, trying to get his generation involved. That’s what going to keep the sport strong.”
What you see of Ryan on social media is what you get. It’s the young man just having fun.
He’s still dedicated to his craft. Dave admires his son’s balancing act.
“That’s the way he is,” Dave said. “He likes to have fun and doing a lot of things, some of the things that scare me, he shouldn’t be doing — chance of getting hurt.
“He’s young and having fun.”
It’s something Dave the father sees, not what the former NASCAR driver sees.