When the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season comes to an end, a new era will begin for Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney. He will join forces with a new crew chief for the 2022 season, but he does not yet know who that person will be.
Blaney appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio ahead of a race at Watkins Glen International. He explained during the session that the No. 12 team continues to search for a replacement for Todd Gordon, who will retire at the end of the year. Blaney and Gordon worked together during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, reaching the playoffs both times.
“That search is still ongoing,” Blaney said, per NASCAR. “It’s been trying to balance that out of focusing on this year, but then also you can’t just forget about next year. You’re always trying to … you need to prepare. You can’t wait until November, December and then try to do something. That’s still a work in progress.”
Gordon Announced His Retirement in Late June
Team Penske has had time to focus on the search for a new crew chief given that Gordon made the big reveal on June 28 during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The veteran explained that he had spent multiple decades in stock car racing and that he is going to kick off a new chapter of his life.
“It’s just one of those things that you look at any life and there’s several chapters in it,” Gordon told SiriusXM, per NASCAR. “It’s been an awesome run here at Team Penske, and really, really happy and fortunate to have the opportunities that I’ve had here, but when you look at it going forward, this is my 23rd year down here in NASCAR and 10 years in Cup Series and just made a family decision that this’ll be my last year sitting on the pit box.”
Gordon will walk away from Team Penske after helping Joey Logano win the 2018 Cup Series championship and Blaney reach the playoffs twice. He also partnered with Logano for five wins in 2014, six in 2015, and three in 2016. The duo reached Victory Lane 21 times from 2013 to 2019.
Blaney Hopes for a Specific Personality Type
Finding a new crew chief will not be a simple task. Team Penske will have to track down someone that can work well with Blaney as they continue to pursue wins. Finding someone with the right personality is key, and the driver of the No. 12 has provided some guidelines.
“There’s some people in mind that I think are really good fits,” Blaney said, “but who I’m looking for is someone … I thought me and Todd got along so well because we’re kind of, at the race track, we’re almost a yin and yang kind of thing. I can get fired up on the radio, and Todd is very calm and it evens itself out of those personalities when we’re doing our jobs. Someone like that.”
Blaney continued and explained that having similar personalities isn’t a deal-killer. A driver and a crew chief can find success while having the same reactions to situations on the track. However, he noted that he prefers to work with someone that can bring him back down to where he needs to be after tense moments.
The search continues as Blaney prepares for a race at Watkins Glen International. The Cup Series drivers will take on the road course on Sunday, Aug. 8 at 3 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the action-packed affair at the 2.45-mile track.