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Blaney, who has seven career Cup Series wins to his name, failed to win a race in his Penske-run Ford Mustang despite finishing eighth in points last season. After scoring his way into the Playoffs, he went out in the Round of Eight.
At the Daytona 500 media day, Blaney looked back on his failure to claim a race win – coming closest in the showpiece season opener when he was pushed into the fence by teammate Austin Cindric in the race to the finish line. He also had the possibility to win the Phoenix finale, but was instructed to stay behind his other teammate, Joey Logano, who clinched the title that day.
“It was unfortunate not winning all year,” he reflected. “I thought we had a strong year, it is just the wins weren’t there. That was because of multiple things.
“I made a bunch of mistakes and we made some mistakes on pit road. We could just never close. So this whole off-season, you just point out the things that you thought you struggled with. From my side to the other sides and you just try to get them better.
“How can we improve these things and make sure we can close out these races. We always had speed at the beginning and then have something happen and kind of fade.
“It is one of those things that you are just always trying to figure out how to get better. It is something where we had to sit down and try to figure out how to change that stuff.”
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Menards/Great Lakes Flooring Ford
Photo by: David Rosenblum / NKP / Motorsport Images
When it comes to the differences that Blaney can make from behind the wheel, he revealed his mindset for the coming season.
“I feel like something big for me is trying to look ahead more,” he said. “Being prepared for the last third of the race. That is something that I have kind of always struggled with a little bit in my career.
“That is one thing that Jonathan [Hassler, his crew chief] and I tried to work on and how we can communicate that stuff better. That was the biggest thing. There are others, but that is the largest one.”
Blaney believes he’s done a decent job of dealing with the disappointments of last year, saying it’s “healthy and good” to beat himself up about it in the immediate aftermath.
“At the time you are beating yourself up about it,” he added. “I have tried to do a good job of just learning from things and moving forward and just focusing on what is ahead and the next task at hand.
“Beating yourself up for a little bit is healthy and good because you need to learn from your mistakes but you can’t dwell on those things for too long. It is over and done and you have the next job to figure out.”