Ryan Blaney previews 2019 Daytona 500, talks NASCAR's new rules and more
Hear from the driver of the No. 12 BODYARMOR Ford ahead of The Great American Race
In the NFL, the season ends with the most important game of the year: the Super Bowl. For NASCAR fans, that game is a mere warmup for their own Super Bowl: the Daytona 500.
To the NASCAR world, the winner of The Great American Race immediately cements their place in history. It's such a big deal that when Austin Dillon drove Dale Earnhardt's No. 3 to Victory Lane last year, he celebrated by getting a tattoo ---- that same night.
The Daytona 500 (Feb. 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET, streaming on fuboTV) provides the chance for NASCAR drivers to show their face to a world that otherwise may not be watching every week. And for a sport that thrives by sponsorship and notoriety, the glory of taking the checkered flag in Week 1 can mean everything.
Ryan Blaney, driver of the BODYARMOR No. 12 for Team Penske, is one driver looking to take that next step this year. Fans may remember Blaney's dominating performance in last year's race, when he led 118 laps before finishing seventh. Or the year before, when he finished second to Stewart-Haas Racing's Kurt Busch.
CBS Sports caught up with Blaney less than two weeks ahead of the Daytona 500 to get his thoughts. You can listen to the full interview below.
Here are some of the highlights:
On past experiences and whether it takes luck or skill to win:
"You can learn a lot...You hear a lot of people say that the superspeedway stuff is about half-and-half. It's half skill and half luck. The luck side comes in when you just don't get involved in one of those big wrecks but there is a lot of strategy that goes into these races.
"Hopefully you make the right decisions in a split second to go forward in these races and that can either win or lose you the race."
On new rules coming to NASCAR this season:
"There's a lot of change, from the rules package to the post-race inspection. A lot of people didn't like (the old rule) that it would come out on Tuesday that the winning car on Tuesday was illegal...I think it's a great thing that they're doing now that they're really going to inspect the winning car right after the race at the racetrack...That's what every short track does around the world, that's what NASCAR used to do and I think it's nice that it's going back to that.
"(The fans) definitely want to see more passing and they're sick of hearing about dirty air and stuff. Trust me, the drivers are too, that's frustrating for us as well and I think where they're going with the rules is going to help that.
"I'm looking forward to it. We accept any challenge given our way and you just try to adjust to the packages as best as you can."
On representing BODYARMOR:
"BODYARMOR was never in NASCAR before and they're a great growing company. It's amazing to see the growth over the past two years since I've been with them. They're a very hungry company. They keep getting better and better.
"Being able to talk to their other athletes some has really been neat to me. I got a chance to sit down and meet Kobe Bryant in Las Vegas last year and just taking to him for 10 or 15 minutes about his mindset on how he would approach big games or just one of the 82 that they would play a year. It's pretty amazing. He and BODYARMOR have that same mindset as far as that intensity level. They always want to get better and always want to keep climbing the ladder."
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