LAS VEGAS – The media scrum gravitates toward Jimmie Johnson, as always, but 24-year-old Ryan Blaney seems to be enjoying the quiet. Each driver in the NASCAR Playoffs has their own hero portrait, and a picture of their car behind them while they were given director’s chairs to sit in. In other years, the car might have been the hero, but with the landscape of today’s NASCAR, it’d be hard to decide which paint scheme to choose from as teams and sponsors shift (or in the case of last year’s title winner Martin Truex and Furniture Row Racing – are shutting down all together).
As obligations go, this Thursday is easy. The drivers are used to marathon meet-and-greets, events, and ride-alongs, even on race weekends, so there’s something calming and soothing about an hour where only a couple people stop to chat inside a well too lit conference room at the South Point Casino just off strip. Blaney doesn’t ever appear stressed, in the car or otherwise. He notably was one of Charlotte’s most eligible bachelors in an online publication a couple years back (a joke, Blaney says, played on him by a member of his team; he never thought he’d make it through the first round). He is turning a huge plot of land outside Charlotte into his own personal retreat; more man-estate than mancave. And he’s made frequent trips out to Los Angeles and has done his share of voice work and acting, including appearances on NBC’s Taken, Cars 3, and Disney XD’s Spider-Man.
Blaney sees driving as both job and passion. It’s all he’s ever wanted to do. But to keep the sport — and his own profile — growing, he can’t just sign photos and die-casts and race his way into the NASCAR Playoffs. He needs to become his own personality off track, and he’s taking every step he can toward doing so. That includes making a splash in the Playoffs, and he finds himself in seventh place heading into Richmond Raceway’s first-ever Playoff race, Saturday night at 7:30 pm ET on NBCSN.
Uproxx spent some time with Blaney before the race in Las Vegas and discussed acting, his love for Star Wars, the pride he has for fellow driver and friend Bubba Wallace, and more.
Uproxx: It seems like you’ve really enjoyed those acting opportunities. Anything that you’ve got coming up?
Ryan Blaney: I don’t know. I love doing those opportunities, to do the Cars 3 movie. To do the Spider-Man voiceover and that animated show, that was really cool and then to do a couple other acting gigs. I enjoy doing that stuff, it’s different, it’s new, but nothing in the near future. Maybe in the offseason, I’ll try to find something to do.
It’s not like you guys aren’t busy enough, but do you tend to want to keep your time filled pretty much?
I do, yeah, I’d rather be doing stuff than sitting around, honestly. Then I feel like I’m actually contributing to something, whether it’s for myself or other people but yeah, I try to keep busy. I think that’s the best way to be.