NASCAR: Third-Generation Driver Ryan Blaney Shines in Nationwide Series Debut

Christopher LeoneSenior Analyst IApril 27, 2012

RICHMOND, VA - APRIL 27:  Ryan Blaney (L), driver of the #36 SealWrap Chevrolet, and Dave Blaney (R), driver of the #36 Chevrolet, talk during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 27, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Travis Pastrana may have been the featured attraction at Richmond International Raceway tonight, but when all was said and done, young Ryan Blaney put on the better show.

The 18-year-old Blaney, son of current Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney and grandson of late sprint car legend Lou Blaney, made his Nationwide Series debut on the same night as Pastrana, choosing the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 for his debut. But while Pastrana ran in the middle of the pack for the entire night, Blaney impressed many with his competitiveness, bringing his No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet home in an impressive seventh place.

Blaney qualified in eighth for the event, posting a 21.949 second lap under three tenths of a second off of Kevin Harvick's pole-winning time. From the green flag, it was clear that Blaney was past, as he picked off car after car on his way to running as high as fourth.

But a lengthy pit stop under caution proved costly for Blaney, as a gas can broke while fueling late in the stop. The gasman had to trade it off for a different can to ensure that the car had enough fuel, and the resulting delay booted the young driver back to 13th.

For the rest of the race, Blaney showed incredible composure and patience as he made up the lost ground. He got by such respected drivers as Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne, as he managed to stay one of only 11 drivers on the lead lap at the finish.

It was just another day at the office for Blaney, whose limited competition suggests good things to come in the next few years. In seven combined starts in ARCA and both K&N regional series since last year, he's scored one win, one pole, and six top-10s. His two best finishes have come at Sprint Cup tracks: he won in the K&N West Series at Phoenix last November, and he finished second in the K&N East Series race at Bristol last month.

Of the eight scheduled races for TBR in Nationwide this season, Blaney will drive six. His next appearance will come at Darlington Raceway in two weeks, with appearances at Kentucky, Indianapolis, Bristol, and Charlotte also on the docket. Meanwhile, Blaney will bide his time on the PASS South Super Late Model Tour, where he will attempt to defend his 2011 championship.