Ryan Blaney would prefer to be at Sharon Speedway on Saturday night, honoring his grandfather. Instead, Blaney will race in the Monster Energy Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.
Even though he will be competing, Blaney will honor his grandfather, as he does every day.
Blaney has two tattoos that pay tribute to Lou Blaney, who won more than 600 races, primarily in sprint cars and modifieds. Blaney has his grandfather’s No. 10 on his chest and an image of his grandfather’s 1970 sprint car around his ribs.
“He’s the one who really started the whole racing deal in the Blaney family,’’ Blaney said of his grandfather. “He got my dad (Dave) and uncle (Dale) in it and ultimately got me into racing.
“I feel like tattoos are something to have meaning, close meaning, and family to me is, I think, the biggest meaning in life.’’
While Blaney races in Kentucky, the Lou Blaney Memorial will be held at Sharon Speedway, a 3/8-mile dirt track in Hartford, Ohio. Tony Stewart won the inaugural event in 2009, just a few months after Lou Blaney died at age 69.
“It’s unfortunate I can’t make it out there,’’ Blaney said. “It’s always a pretty cool night. They have a bunch of drivers out, and it’s always nice to kind of meet everybody from that area where they talk about my dad when he was racing up there just getting started, or my grandpa when he was racing back in the ’70s or really all the way up to the early 2000s. I always like to go to that night.’’
Many are talking about Blaney and what he’s done in NASCAR. He scored his first career Cup win last month at Pocono and talk has centered on if he’ll be brought into the Team Penske fold after this season. Blaney is a Team Penske driver who has been loaned to Wood Brothers Racing since 2015.
“There’s been talks about it for years, really ever since I got with the Penske group, and things just haven’t really come together,’’ Blaney said. “I love the Wood Brothers, and driving for them has been really special for me and my family. I couldn’t ask for a greater group of people.
“But the things I’m mostly concentrated on now is trying to win race 100 for the Wood Brothers. That’s something I would really like to achieve, and I think we can do it. I believe we can really do that.’’
If he scored that win at Kentucky, on the same night as Lou Blaney is being honored at his home track, it would be even more meaningful for the driver who carries his grandfather with him in every race.