Dave Blaney to leave NASCAR racing to son Ryan, but will increase dirt racing schedule in 2015

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It appears Dave Blaney will leave any NASCAR racing in the future to son Ryan.

According to an interview with PennLive.com, the elder Blaney – who is competing in this weekend’s World Of Outlaws World Finals in Charlotte – appears ready to return to his sprint car racing roots on a fairly busy part-time level in 2015.

“I don’t plan on running any NASCAR at the moment,” Blaney told PennLive.com.

Blaney’s decision is not surprising. It’s a matter of economics (lack of financial support) and performance (lack of a competitive ride).

“I’m not in any position to get any kind of ride that is going to be competitive,” the elder Blaney said.

But he’ll still be a familiar face at NASCAR races when he can.

“I will go to a lot of races to watch Ryan,” Dave Blaney said.

Dave Blaney plns to compete in as many as 50 to 60 sprint car races in 2015, which is nearly double of a NASCAR Sprint Cup or Nationwide (soon to be Xfinity) Series yearly slate.

“By no means will [sprint cars] be full time, but it could be a lot more than this year,” said Blaney, who will have competed in 25 races this season vs. just seven in the NASCAR Sprint Cup world. “I could even see a 60-race schedule if things line up perfect.”

But, Blaney also added the exact opposite could happen, too: “I could also see 15 (races) as well, but we will see.”

Inducted into the Sprint Car Hall of Fame earlier this year, Blaney, 52, said the time is right for him to back to playing in the dirt on a regular basis, so to speak. However, he has had his struggles at times in several of the sprint car events he’s competed in this season.

“It’s just the way it is when you haven’t done it much in the last 15 years,” Blaney told PennLive. “… But I love being around these things, driving the cars, working on them and being a part of these races.”

Before his career path led him to NASCAR nearly 15 years ago, Blaney was a sprint car standout, including winning the WoO STP Sprint Car Series championship in 1995 and the USAC Silver Crown title in 1984, one season after being chosen All-Star Sprint Circuit Rookie-of-the-Year.

Right now, Blaney’s expectations for 2015 on the dirt are pretty fluid.

“I’m going to fart around and see how it goes,” Blaney said. “It’s tough racing these things when you are part time. You just aren’t as good.

“Maybe I would be better off going full time. We would get more out of the car and out of me, but I’m not too worried about it. We’ll see what happens.”

Another part has to do with watching Ryan, who races for Penske Racing.

“I don’t want to go off and race [sprint cars] and not be with him,” Blaney said. “I want to be there and be a part of it.”

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Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”