CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Ryan Blaney took exception to comments made by Kyle Busch on Tuesday criticizing NASCAR marketing and publicity campaigns that focus more on young Cup drivers over veterans like Busch.
Busch described the strategies as “stupid” and “bothersome,” saying veteran drivers and their sponsors have paid their dues.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver also said young drivers “are bullied into doing more things than the older guys are because we say no a lot more because we’ve been there, done that and have families.”
Blaney said the comments “kind of made me upset how he bashed that part of it.”
The 24-year-old Team Penske driver is entering his third full-time Cup season after two years with Wood Brothers Racing.
Blaney made clear he’s never been bullied into doing something to promote the sport.
“I’ve been really fortunate to get a lot of great chances from NASCAR to go do things outside of motorsports,” Blaney said Wednesday during the NASCAR Media Tour. “NBC and NASCAR were a big thing in getting me to do “Taken,” the Cars (3) voice and Logan Lucky. That was all really from NASCAR. I’ve always been very open to do a lot of the things they want. It’s not always been stuff like that. You go do some markets where maybe you don’t think it’s going to be a very good market, but you do it anyway because it helps the sport and it helps yourself. It’s win-win for everybody.
“Maybe (Busch) doesn’t like doing it. I feel like if some drivers were more willing to do these things they’d get asked more to do it. The reason I get asked to do it a lot is because I say yes a lot. Because I think it’s good for the sport and myself. I can tell you personally he doesn’t like to do a lot of stuff so that’s why they don’t ask him to do a lot of stuff.”
Blaney stressed the importance of all drivers, not just those in his age bracket, making the effort to push NASCAR toward “new demographics of the world.”
“Whether it’s from younger fans to new fans who don’t pay attention to it who aren’t young,” Blaney said. “It’s not just young drivers who are gonna make people appeal to the sport, it’s the whole lot.
“I think everybody should be little bit more open to helping the sport out because that’s how it’s going to survive. I’m trying to the best that I can at it and a lot of other drivers are helping to. It’s just trying to get more and more every day.”
Ty Dillon, 25, “laughed a little bit” at Busch’s comments.
“Kyle’s got a good reach himself,” said Dillon, driver of Germain Racing’s No. 13 Chevrolet. “The fact that he’s such a good driver and winner, I don’t know if he realizes how much a following and push that he gets as well. I think it’s good that NASCAR is pushing the younger demographic, we need the younger fans. We need to keep getting those fans. But you shouldn’t have to rely on NASCAR to go all your social and your reach out for you. We have such great platforms to be able to do things like that with. If he feels that way, that he’s frustrated, he should use his platforms to go after that fan base himself.”