Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney is set to debut a new BODYARMOR paint scheme in this Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Sunday afternoon’s Ambetter Health 400 marks the first time that the New York-based sports drink is the primary sponsor of the No. 12 Ford this season, and it is the first time they have ever promoted SportWater.
The paint scheme matches the “Stormtrooper White” packaging design of SportWater that debuted in retail stores in 2023.
Blaney has been a BODYARMOR athlete partner since 2017, and what started as a personal deal has evolved into a deal that has seen the company serve as his primary sponsor in several Cup Series races in recent years. He won twice with BODYARMOR on the car in 2021, including at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“It’s been a pretty awesome ride, to be honest with you, watching our relationship grow, watching our professions grow a lot, on the racing side and then them as a company,” Blaney told Beyond the Flag. “The heights that they’ve reached just in the last handful of years is incredible. It’s been a huge privilege to be with a great company that has so many awesome people who work at it and strive to be better and better every day.
“That part is really, really cool when you have a partner like that who has the same mindset as you, and things like that. Really excited to keep going and keep building on our path. Like I said, they’ve been amazing to me, and it’s been cool to be just a small part of their success. We’re going to keep going on both our sides, and I can’t wait to see where we end up here in the next seven years.”
He also spoke about the opportunity to promote BODYARMOR’s SportWater on his car in this weekend’s 260-lap race around the four-turn, 1.54-mile (2.478-kilometer) Hampton, Georgia oval.
“It’s the first time we’ve done something like this with the water,” he said. “We did a scheme for the [Coca-Cola] 600 last year, I believe we did Edge, BODYARMOR Edge, and people loved that. We’ve done some really neat paint schemes with the BODYARMOR folks. This year is great we get to have the SportWater on the car. The car looks great. It looks absolutely fantastic and it will look really, really cool on the race track.
“It’s one of those things that we kicked around the idea for a couple years, I feel like, having different flavors and SportWater on the car as a primary paint scheme. They were wanting to do something like this, and it was a great idea. It’s a neat-looking car, and you’ll definitely be able to pick it out. It’s really clean.”
Ryan Blaney, a huge Star Wars fan, is also excited that the car looks similar to an Imperial stormtrooper.
“Kind of looks like a stormtrooper too, so that makes it even better,” he said. “I don’t know if they did that specifically for me. I feel like it was more the water colors, but it worked out for both of us, so that was good!”
Sunday’s race is one of three races in which Blaney is set to run a BODYARMOR paint scheme throughout the 2023 season.
“They’ll be on the car at Richmond and the [Coca-Cola] 600,” he said. “I cannot tell you what we’re doing for those two, but I know that they are going to be on the car for those other two races.”
Having won with BODYARMOR at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March 2021, Blaney is looking forward to doing it again — and getting his first Cup Series points win at any track since August 2021.
But Atlanta Motor Speedway is a different animal than it was in 2021, with the track driving more like a superspeedway than a typical 1.5-mile oval following the repave.
While superspeedway competition has been a strength of Blaney, with him having won at both Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, he admits that he prefers the old Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“Do I prefer the old Atlanta over this new one? Yea, probably, just because that was a super fun race track,” he admitted. “But this one is its own challenge, and you have to realize what you’re getting into and try to figure out the best way to try to win the race.
“It’s definitely more similar to [Daytona and Talladega] than what it used to be. It’s a complete 180 from what it was a couple years ago before they repaved it. It is a similar feel, superspeedway-type feel, but it is a mile shorter than those places, Daytona and Talladega.
“Things happen even quicker when you’re in a pack and you’re bumping each other and drafting and running inches apart, that’s already tough enough to time things out and see things develop, like at Daytona and Talladega. But now, it’s the same thing, but it’s just a way shorter race track, it’s narrower, so you have to react a lot quicker to certain things.
“There are similarities, but there are still some differences as well to those places, and it makes it a unique place.”
Ryan Blaney qualified third for Sunday’s race, completing a 1-2-3 Team Penske sweep.
The Ambetter Health 400, the fifth race of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, is set to be broadcast live from Atlanta Motor Speedway on Fox beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, March 19.