Todd Gordon has become Ryan Blaney’s best friend this season after three races in. Blaney has been in contention for the win all three times he’s hit the track in 2020. It’s been an odd, but refreshing start to the year. While Blaney has been in contention for every race and is currently first in points standings, he’s only finished in the top ten once in these first three races.
He has accumulated enough stage points to keep himself standing in the #1 position. Is it going to stick though, has Ryan Blaney truly became a title contender or even the favorite?
Last season Blaney finished 7th in the points standings after progressively improving his stats each season. His abilities in Cup were never in question, he belonged, but what was his ceiling? Chase Elliott was the measuring stick for young drivers, and he didn’t come into Cup with the hype that Elliott or even rookie drivers this season like Bell, Reddick, and Custer.
A large part of this has a lot to do with the fact that Blaney was one of the rare Cup drivers who never drove full-time in the Xfinity Series. He, of course, ran in Xfinity and ran well with 4 wins prior to making the jump to Cup. He never ran for a championship and got the seat time that the younger phenoms got.
This could be a key factor in why Blaney has taken longer to develop compared to his peer Chase Elliott. As I said, he is getting better each and every year, and now we may be seeing the peak of his talent.
His confidence in driving the car is steadfast after accidentally causing Ryan Newman’s scary crash and losing the Daytona 500 in heartbreaking fashion. Turning around and having such a strong car in Vegas, only to have a poor pit decision took him out of contention. He came back just as strong in Fontana only to have another stroke of bad luck.
Many drivers would become dejected and lose their drive, but Blaney seems ready to continue his strong trend. With Todd Gordon at the helm, I have no doubt he will continue this for the rest of the year.
We are watching the food chain shift at Penske Racing before our eyes with Blaney starting to overtake the second position in the garage and maybe challenge for dominance against Joey Logano.
Is he the favorite?
No, not yet. He’s going to make the playoffs, probably win multiple races, and right now I’d pick him to make it to the third round of playoffs easily. This year will be the true measuring stick for Blaney’s ceiling and where his career trajectory is headed.
If he can overcome the bad luck and string along top-five finishes that his car deserves and even multiple wins, then I think we could see Blaney in the Championship 4 this season for sure.