RYAN BLANEY: YOUNG GUNS MUST ‘STAND UP FOR OURSELVES’

FORT WORTH, Texas — In a Martinsville race weekend that saw a memorable post-race exchange between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin, fellow rising star Ryan Blaney had an exchange of his own with 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick.

And the 23-year-old said it was all a case of young drivers standing up for themselves.

“I think you go through a little bit of hazing like any sport or series when you come in,” Blaney said during a media availability at Texas Motor Speedway. “I do believe that we (young guns) have to stand up for ourselves and not get shoved around. There’s a respect you have to show. I respect every one of the drivers that we are racing against right now, but you can’t get pushed around because it’s not going to stop if you let it happen. You have to be respectful, but at the same time, you are not going to let somebody push you around. You have to stand up for yourself.”
Harvick pounded on Blaney’s bumper throughout the race at the .526-mile short track. The two slammed doors at one point, and Blaney also brake-checked Harvick. The two had a pointed discussion on pit road after the race.

“Obviously, we weren’t happy with each other,” Blaney said. “Both of us had our conversations and what we were upset about. I felt like we handled it fine. It was a stern talking-to, but I have a lot of respect for Kevin. He helped me a lot when I first got started a handful of years ago. Just Martinsville racing pretty much. We had a talk and I think we’re fine right now. I’m sure we’re over it and those we’re just to reassure we were good.”

Blaney enters Texas sixth in points and just six points out of the final transfer spot into the Championship 4 with two races to go in the Round of 8. The AAA Texas 500 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) represents a big opportunity for the driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.

The team has been strong for much of the year at intermediate tracks, and Blaney led 148 laps here in the spring. On Friday, the No. 21 Ford was fastest in opening practice.

“I don’t think it’s a must-win for us,” Blaney said. “I think we can come out here and have a solid run. And Phoenix, it hasn’t been our best track, but I feel like we can put together a decent race. I don’t mark it down as all or nothing like if we don’t win this race we aren’t getting to Homestead. I just don’t really look at it that way.”

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