12 Questions with Paul Menard (2019)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Paul Menard of Wood Brothers Racing. This interview was recorded as a podcast but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

1. Are you an iPhone person or an Android person, and why?

I’m an iPhone guy. Not really sure why. I had an Android probably 10 years ago. I could never figure the damn thing out. I’m a big music guy, so I went to the iPhone because I could put all my music on there and just not have to carry an iPod or anything. I think it’s a lot easier to work, too.

2. If a fan meets you in the garage, they might only have a brief moment with you. So between an autograph, a selfie or quick comment, what is your advice on the best way to maximize that interaction?

It probably depends a lot about when it is. If you’re rushing to the car for practice or something, they better be prepared to walk and I’ll sign whatever in the time that it takes to get to the car. If it’s something like this where we’re kind of just hanging out (Editor’s note: This interview took place in the garage), I see there’s a couple kids over there, I’ll just hang out and sign for them.

NASCAR does a good job with doing the red carpet thing for driver intros and stuff to actually give you some time to actually spend a little bit of time and sign, but if it’s practice or it’s a pressure situation, you gotta keep moving.

3. When someone pulls a jerk move on the road when you’re driving down the highway, does that feeling compare at all to when someone pulls a jerk move on the track?

A jerk move? (Laughs)

I was trying to be polite there.

I gotcha. I’d say it’s similar. On the track, you get mad and you get over it pretty quick. On the road, you just kind of feel like bad about it because there’s so many other people that are out there. You know, soccer moms, minivan packed full of kids and somebody’s driving aggressively on the road. I never really understand that.

I’d probably get more mad on the road honestly than on the track. One little mistake’s going to wad up a couple of cars and hurt some kids and adults too. So yeah, it’s pretty dumb.

4. Has there ever been a time where you’ve had a sketchy situation with your safety equipment?

No, not really. Nowadays, you crash a car and you get new seatbelts, so everything’s brand new. Back in the day, Late Model racing and things, we had those old latch and link system of belts where you had to kind of put everything together and basically run a piece of metal through and latch it, and I’ve had those where I’ve hit them with my wrist before and it’s come off. But that’s usually just sitting in the car waiting for changes and I’ll move my hands. I’ve never had it on track, so knock on wood, I’ve been pretty lucky, I guess.

5. If your crew chief put a super secret illegal part on your car that made it way faster, would you want to know about it?

Probably not. I’d hope that they wouldn’t do that, knowing that it’s glaringly illegal. But if they did, I wouldn’t want to know about it, no.

Just be like, “Whatever you gotta do?”

Just play stupid, I guess. Easier to do when you don’t know.

6. What is a food you would not recommend eating right before a race and are you speaking with personal experience with this recommendation?

A couple years ago I had some outdated yogurt before the Atlanta 500. Luckily it was a night race, so it cleared up, but I was pretty nervous. So yeah, stay away from the outdated yogurt. It was Labor Day Weekend, too, so it was like 100 degrees out. It was pretty brutal.

7. Is there life in outer space, and if so, do they race?

(Laughs) Yeah, there’s something out there. We don’t know what, but there’s definitely something out there. And if they’re smart enough to build machines, I’d say they probably do race or have fun with it somehow. That’s a really weird question. But yeah, I think there’s something out there, and they probably do race. Hell yeah.

8. What do drivers talk about when they’re standing around at driver intros before a race?

Depends who you’re talking to. Usually not racing-related stuff. You might open up with, “Hey, how’s your car?” Then you might segue into, “What did you have for dinner?” the night before or something. It’s usually very random.

9. What makes you happy right now?

Being a dad, honestly. I have two little kids at home that are growing and they change all the time. I spent all winter with both kids and I went away for a weekend in Atlanta, I got home and my daughter was different than she was when I left and picked up new things. My son, he’s walking and he’s starting to talk and they grow up really quick.

How old are they?

My daughter’s almost 5 and my son is 16 months.

10. Let’s say a sponsor comes to you and says, “We are going to fully fund the entire rest of your racing career on the condition that you wear a clown nose and an 80’s rocker wig in every interview you do forever.” Would you accept that offer?

At my age, life’s too damn short.

11. This is the 10th year of the 12 Questions. There has never been a repeat question until now. Pick a number between 1 and 100, and I’m going to pull up a random question from a past year’s series.

There’s 100 questions total that you’ve asked?

There’s actually a little bit more, but I cut some of the bad ones.

So if I do 105 you won’t know?

I wouldn’t know.

Let’s go 50.

This is actually a question you have answered before from 2011. 

Let’s see if my answer matches.

How different is your personality inside the car than outside of it?

Pretty similar, I’d say. I’m pretty laid back until I get pissed off or something, then the gloves come off. But I’m pretty easygoing. You get in the race car and obviously your competitive juices start flowing and you do other things, but I’d say pretty similar.

Apparently you haven’t changed in eight years because you said back in 2011, “Probably pretty similar. I’m a pretty calm guy inside and out. I go about my daily affairs kind of the same way I go about driving the race car.”

There you go.

12. The last interview was with Hailie Deegan. Her question for you is: if you had to pick a driver to be your ride or die BFF and spend every single day with them, which driver in here would you pick?

That I’m racing against currently?


Oh man. I’d probably go with Almirola. We go way back. We’ve known each other a long time. We’re pretty good friends. He’s my ride or die. (Smiles)

The next interview I’m doing is with Corey LaJoie. Do you have a question I can ask him?

I was walking in this morning and somebody said, “Hey Corey.” So I want to know how many times he gets called “Paul.”

It must be the beard, right?

It must be.

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Paul Menard:

March 30, 2011

April 11, 2012

June 25, 2014

Sept. 14, 2015

News Analysis: Ryan Blaney to Penske, Paul Menard to Wood Brothers

What happened: Team Penske will bring back its third Cup Series team — the No. 12 car — in a move to get driver Ryan Blaney under the same roof as Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Meanwhile, Paul Menard — who currently drives for Richard Childress Racing — will bring his Menards sponsorship to Wood Brothers Racing’s No. 21 car, where he will replace Blaney. Childress said it will announce its driver lineup for 2018 at a future date.

What it means: Although Blaney drove for the Wood Brothers, he was basically a Team Penske development driver — similar to the Erik Jones situation with Furniture Row Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. So although Blaney was a potential Silly Season target, Penske wasn’t about to let him get away — thus the creation of a third team. Menard is a downgrade for the No. 21 car, but he brings 22 races worth of Menards sponsorship, which is something the Wood Brothers team can’t exactly pass up. Although the move may seem odd on the surface, Menards is sponsoring Simon Pagenaud’s IndyCar entry for 10 races this season and already has a relationship with Penske. Given the Wood Brothers are a Penske affiliate, this only strengthens that bond and is a healthy move for both parties. And obviously, Menard will have a consistently faster car in the No. 21 than he currently has in the No. 27.

News value (scale of 1-10): Six. Several elements make this situation notable — a new Cup car, an up-and-coming driver and a veteran switching teams. But since this move was anticipated for awhile, the lack of surprise takes a few points off the news value.

Three questions: Will RCR now contract to two cars or will it be able to find sponsorship to keep a third team? Where will Team Penske get its charter for the No. 12 car? Is there any way the typically great-looking No. 21 car will not be painful on the eyes with bright Menards sponsorship on it?


12 Questions with Ryan Blaney

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Ryan Blaney from Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney is currently 13th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings and is in the playoffs thanks to his victory last month at Pocono Raceway. We spoke a couple hours before the Sonoma race.

1. How much of your success is based on natural ability and how much has come from working at it?

I think it’s both. I feel like to get good at something, you have to work at it. You might be born with some of it, but I don’t think you can’t work at it and be great in any sport, whether that’s motorsports or basketball, football — you always have to practice and work at it.

There’s really great talented athletes out there in all forms of sports, but if they don’t try and get better, I don’t think they’ll be able to perform in the big leagues. You always have to keep working at it. I think that goes kind of hand in hand.

2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and now Dale Earnhardt Jr. have all either retired in the last couple years or will retire soon. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours?

I’ve been asked that a handful of times — like a campaign speech as to why fans should switch drivers. I don’t know if that’s really my choice. If you like me, you do. If not, you don’t. Whether it’s the way I drive or personality off the track, you either like me or you don’t, so I don’t really have a speech, I guess. I just think go with what you think. If you want to be a fan, then great. If not, that’s fine with me, too. I don’t really have a big speech for that.

Fair enough. It’s sort of like one of those things where you can’t really convince somebody to like something. If you like vanilla and somebody else likes chocolate, you can’t be like, “No, you should like this!”

It’s personal opinion, and that’s with anything, whether it’s religion or government or political view. I mean, it’s anything. So I can’t convince you to like me; it’s either you do or you don’t.

3. What is the hardest part of your job away from the racetrack?

I think the hardest part is actually driving the cars. We do a lot of preparation before the races, trying to get ready of how we’re going to drive the racetrack or whatever, but actually trying to compete on race day, that’s one of the hardest parts, is trying to beat everybody else.

But the hardest thing other than that just preparing for each race weekend and trying to figure out how you’re going to be faster than everybody else before you even get to the racetrack. So that’s pretty tough.

I’m sure some people will say sponsor appearances and things like that, but honestly, that’s really nothing. That allows us to go race, so I don’t mind doing any of that stuff. But I think the work we do during the week (is harder). Granted, we don’t do tons of work during the week, just setting the cars up — our guys, they bust their butts to do that — but the little things we do to try and prepare us for the weekend, I think that’s pretty tough outside the driving aspect.

You’re known as a guy who doesn’t say no to sponsor stuff or when NASCAR asks you to go do something. Why doesn’t that seem to bother you?

I feel like it helps the sport. I’ll say no to a few things, but I’ll say yes to a lot more and the majority of it (because) we’re trying to grow the sport and we’re trying to get new fans. All of those things are kind of (helping) to go in that direction. So I don’t mind doing it. I think it’s good not only for the sport but for your team and for your own personal gain as well. I just enjoy doing it, whether it’s traveling or doing things around home. It’s nice to go around and meet people.

4. Let’s say a fan spots you eating dinner in a nice restaurant. Should they come over for an autograph or no?

So I actually had this happen. I will sign anything that you have or take a picture with you or anything if I’m out to eat or something, but either before my food comes or after I’m done. Like if my plate has just gotten sat down and I’m about to go in and you come up wanting an autograph, I’m like, “Come on.” Or if I’m mid-eat, I’ll probably still do it, but I’ll kind of have an attitude while I’m doing it.

But yeah, either before our food comes or after we’re done eating. I’m an aggressive eater, so while I’m actually consuming material, I kind of like to be left alone. But I’ll do anything you want, but it just depends if I’m in a good mood or not while I’m doing it.

So did the recent person come up to you mid-bite?

Mid-bite, yeah. Like two bites in, putting that second piece of food in my mouth, and (the person) comes up like, “I hate to bother you.” Well, then don’t! If you hate to do it, then don’t do it. Can you wait, please? I mean, I did it, but yeah — me and my food are in a tight relationship, so just wait until I’m done with that.

5. What’s a story in NASCAR that doesn’t get enough coverage?

I honestly think the story that doesn’t get enough (coverage) is everybody working on the race cars. I would love to see a feature — it may be hard to do because you’d have to go in the race shop — of like what a week or two of preparation is, turning around cars. Like the Michigan to Sonoma turnaround is so quick, you’d be amazed at how hard these guys work to try and get everything situated. You know, we’ll get back super late (after Sonoma) and they’ll be back in the shop Monday morning getting our Daytona stuff ready. So they bust their tails and I would love for the media and for TV to see that side of them a little more and for the fans, too.

We have a very little role in it — they’re the ones who are able to make it possible for us. I haven’t really seen a feature like that before, not that I know of. Maybe there has been one, but I think that’d be really cool to show everybody.

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

I texted Dale (Jr.) last night. I had a question for him about his music and stuff. He has a band that he really likes, and I was trying to think of the band name. I had to ask him. I can’t remember the name, either, by the way.

That’s why it’s in text form. You can just go look back at it.

Exactly. I prefer calls nowadays, but texts are so nice because you have history — that could be a bad thing, too — but I think it’s like a reference. It’s like notes, but you’re not even taking notes. So that’s pretty nice. But yeah, Dale was the last person I texted. I had to ask for some help.

7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?

Yeah. Oh, for sure. I think any sport, the athletes are entertainers. It’s our job as well, and our goal is to go try and win, but all these sports, they’re entertainment sports. That’s what fans come to the racetrack or a ballgame for: To be entertained and to like watching people do their thing and be amazed at what we can do.

I definitely feel like NASCAR is an entertainment sport for sure. (It’s) not strictly an entertainment sport, but fans want to come to the racetrack to be entertained. We’re not gonna put on a soap opera out here, but to some degree, it’s for the fans.

8. What is your middle finger policy on the racetrack?

(Laughs) I will shoot you the middle finger. I will shoot you the bird if you piss me off. I’ve gotten a little more relaxed about it, but as a kid, you wanna shoot everybody the bird. But yeah, I will if I feel like I got used up or something like that.

I’ve toned back on it, but there’s so many that go around, you can’t take it to heart. It’s just a little gesture that you do, because you can’t talk to the person right then, you kind of let them know that you didn’t appreciate what you did. And yeah, it’s pretty open. It’s a pretty open policy. A lot of drivers do it and I think it’s pretty good.

9. Some drivers keep a payback list in their minds. Do you also have a list for drivers who have done you a favor on the track?

Oh yeah. That’s a really good question because everyone always talks about people on their bad list and what people did them wrong. They always keep that in their memory. But you do keep the good memories in mind as well. If someone does cut you a break, maybe let you in at a speedway or gives you a break on a restart or something like that, you remember that and utilize that if the situation comes up later in the race or the week after. You like to repay the favor. You’ve got to be generous out here. So yeah, you definitely keep a memory bank of that stuff too.

10. Who is the most famous person you’ve had dinner with?

I don’t know. Like Roger Penske maybe. I mean, Roger is a pretty famous person, I think. Roger or Dale, maybe. I think Roger might beat Dale out a little bit; just a touch. Roger’s been around for a long time. I got asked, “Who’s the most famous person in your phone?” and that’s probably Roger, too.

Dale doesn’t have his name on the side of trucks driving down the freeway like Roger does.

That is true as well, and Dale doesn’t own pretty much half of Detroit, or Michigan, pretty much. So that’s why Roger has Dale beat just a little bit.

11. What’s something about yourself you’d like to improve?

Personally, I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit better at it, but I’m just like my dad in this aspect, which I hate: When the helmet goes on, I get very emotional sometimes. I can get upset pretty easily. And that’s not good for anybody. You can see that on (FS1’s) Radioactive, they like to call me on the Radio Sweetheart all the time — which is not cool, Race Hub.

Yeah, I’m a pretty level guy outside the car, and then, I don’t know, I get upset easily inside the race car. I don’t know if that’s me being passionate about something or what. That’s something that I’d like to improve. I’ve improved on it over the past handful of years since I got in it. It keeps getting better and better every year, I think, but that’s something I’d like to improve: Just being a little more calm on the radio and levelheaded. I think that would be nothing but good for myself and for the whole team.

12. The last interview was with Todd Gilliland. He wanted to know: What did you learn in the K&N race at Sonoma, if that’s any comparison to what you’ll do today.

We’ll find out if it carries over (Blaney ended up finishing ninth in the Cup race). The K&N race was nice too, and their cars are way different, their tires are way different, so that’s kind of rough to kind of carry over to this side. I messed with some line stuff (in K&N). My tires kind of got worn out to maybe help with this Cup car, but they are widely different. But I thought it helped out a little bit.

And then race etiquette, you kind of find out where passing points are a little more and how to set yourself up off a certain corner to have a chance of passing this one. So those two parts were pretty good.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with. Do you have a general question that I might be able to ask a future driver?

I think you did this last time.

I didn’t have a person prepared for you? Because I knew you could handle the off-the-cuff random question.

OK…”Who shot first?”

Who shot first? Like an Alexander Hamilton type of thing?

No, like Han Solo and Greedo.

Oh, I see. It’s a Star Wars reference.

So who shot first, and see if they know what the reference is.

What’s the right answer?

I don’t know.

Do you have a theory?

No. (Laughing) I want you to write every little thought and word that they say into the next one.

Like all the likes, umms, the stumbles?

Yeah. I want every single piece. Anything they say into this microphone from this question, you have to type and put in in your story.

The Top Five: Breaking down the Pocono race

Five thoughts after Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway…

1. Blaney breaks through

When young Cup drivers face numerous challenges in a single race, they often fail to win. That’s because a lack of experience or poise typically trips them up at some point; even if they overcome one problem, the next does them in.

But at Pocono, Ryan Blaney had to survive three tough moments to score his first career Cup victory.

First of all, Blaney couldn’t talk to his team on the radio all day because his helmet microphone wasn’t working. The team worked out a series of hand signals as a substitute, and it made communication about changes to the car very difficult.

Jon Wood, through the Wood Brothers Racing Twitter account, tweeted late in the race: “If you could listen in for just like 20 seconds, you’d agree it’s just flat-out amazing that we are even on the lead lap at this point.”

After enduring that stress, Blaney found himself starting fourth on the final restart — and the first driver on four new tires. But although he was faster at that point, Blaney had to deal with extremely aggressive blocking from Kyle Busch, which could have easily ended in a wreck for one or both of the drivers. Blaney stayed patient, raced Busch cleanly and made the pass.

After that, he had Kevin Harvick approaching quickly. Harvick stayed on his back bumper in the final laps, waiting to pounce if Blaney made the slightest mistake.

“The way I passed people all day was waiting for him to slip up off the bottom, and he never slipped off the bottom,” Harvick said. “Ryan did a good job of not slipping a wheel with the amount of laps that he had left.”

Blaney drove flawlessly at the end — and throughout the race. He truly earned the win.

2. Silver lining for Dale Jr.?

Pocono was the low point of the season so far for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his fans. Earnhardt missed a pair of shifts this weekend that resulted in blown engines — and offered no excuses for the mistakes.

Though fans were eager for a reason to blame crew chief Greg Ives or the team (surely the shifter must be set up differently!), Earnhardt acknowledged nothing in the car has changed.

This was simply driver error.

“I wish I could blame it on something else, because this feels awful,” he told FOX Sports 1. “It’s just my fault. … I wish I could say the shifter is different.”

There isn’t much good to say about the day — or the season so far. Earnhardt clearly isn’t confident in his cars right now and isn’t having the fun he had been the past few years.

But there might be one positive. As noted by Justin Bukoski, an Earnhardt fan from Portland, Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne appeared to have brake failures (as did Jamie McMurray). And Earnhardt had earlier been complaining of brake problems.

So if Earnhardt had not blown an engine, was it only a matter of time before his brakes led to a Johnson-like hit into the wall? If so, that might have been the end of Earnhardt’s career — or worse — given his concussion history.

3. Another scary moment

Maybe it’s just a heightened sense of awareness since the Aric Almirola crash, but it feels like there have been a lot of hard hits lately, doesn’t it? And there were two more on Sunday.

With four laps left in Stage 2, Johnson and McMurray suffered simultaneous brake failures going into Turn 1 — and both crashed hard.

They were each frightening in their own right. Johnson’s hit was violent — and he initially seemed headed straight for the wall, nose-first — while McMurray’s was fiery.

Johnson seemed shaken and said, “We got away with one there.” He knew it could have been a lot worse.

The burning car was the most worrisome part about McMurray’s wreck. Though it was nice to see the automatic extinguisher put out the fire in the front of the car, the back end was still in flames for quite awhile.

It appeared there were approximately 20 seconds between the time McMurray’s car stopped and when the safety crew put the first bit of extinguisher on the flames. Could the response time have been faster? Before you answer, consider what would have happened if McMurray had not been able to get out of the car (what if he had an Almirola-like injury?). That would have been ugly.

Either way, it’s just another reminder of how dangerous this sport is. And I think we’re all good on reminders for awhile.

4. New blood on TV

I was moving cross-country this weekend and missed the drivers-only Xfinity Series broadcast. That really bummed me out, because I wanted to know how it went.

Fortunately, many Twitter followers were able to fill me in. I received 115 replies to a tweet asking whether people enjoyed it or not.

The consensus: An overwhelmingly positive response to the broadcast, with many comments urging FOX Sports to try it again sometime. I’d say 95 percent of the responses were raving about it; people really seemed to enjoy seeing different faces on the broadcast.

Hopefully, that emotion from the fans was noticed by FOX executives. There appear to be many capable drivers who could fill on-air roles at the moment, some who will be retiring within the next few years. A career full of TV interviews and commercials and appearances has helped drivers become very polished on camera.

If that’s the case, why not stock the on-air booths with the most relevant analysts possible? FOX should do everything it can to keep its talent fresh.

5. Another race, another new winner

That’s now 10 different winners in the first 14 races — which is quite impressive considering drivers like Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have yet to go to victory lane.

But it’s also a whopping eight different teams that have won races, thanks to new faces like Wood Brothers Racing (first win since 2011), Richard Childress Racing (first win since 2013) and Roush Fenway Racing (first win since 2014).

Joe Gibbs Racing has not won yet and certainly will before the regular season ends, so that will be nine.

How does that compare to last year? Well, only seven different teams won a race in all of 2016.

Though it’s still tough to say whether this is a sign of real parity or just unique circumstances producing different winners, it’s always good when no single entity — driver or team — is dominating the season.

Social Spotlight with Jon Wood of Wood Brothers Racing

Each week, I’m asking someone from the racing industry about their social media use in a feature called the Social Spotlight. Up next: Jon Wood, who is the man behind the @woodbrothers21 Twitter account.

Let’s first talk about how you first came to be the one who was in charge of the team account.

The way our race team works — it’s a family business. So we all kind of chip in, whether it’s my dad (Eddie) or me or my sister (Jordan), whoever. We aren’t specifically tasked with any individual responsibilities; we just all kind of do whatever needs to be done.

A couple of years ago, maybe five years ago now, my sister was doing the social media because she (is) the director of marketing, so to speak. She was handling the social media and she had to go to a wedding or something, I can’t remember what it was — it was some obligation. So she had me do the social media that weekend at Talladega. I had never done it; I didn’t even have a Twitter account at the time.

So I’m like, “You gotta show me what to do, give me all the passwords and all this stuff.” And it was just a really good fit because I have a racing background myself, so I understood without having to ask a crew chief or another crew member, “Hey, what does it mean ‘a round of wedge?'” I already knew that stuff. So the technical aspect of it, I could explain things easier than probably some other marketing person can.

But then I didn’t really have any experience in social media at all, and so that was kind of a learning curve. I just tried to be myself; I just tried to be natural. Nobody wants an information-only source — I’m mean, you’ve got plenty of (non-information-only sources), and you’re one of those, where if I need to know something, I click on Jeff Gluck’s account or Bob Pockrass. You want to have your own individual identity, and so that’s what I try to do.

What it kind of reminds me of is I see some of these pro sports teams now who know the people following are fans, so they want to show they’re invested in it just like the fans are. If it’s a bad day, they’re not gonna sugarcoat it, they’re gonna say, “This sucks.” That’s kind of what I get from your account in some ways, where if something went wrong, you’re like, “We’re screwed. This strategy just didn’t work.” Do you know what I mean?

It’s a delicate balance. My wife (Amanda) stays on me all the time, she says I’m too negative. Whenever the day is going bad, she accuses me of just giving up. Like, “I’m done. See ya.” I don’t literally leave the racetrack, but I mean, I have a vested interest equity in this team, so it’s not like your typical marketing person where when they get home at night, the last thing that’s on their mind is the race team or where they finished. They might not even know where the car finished.

And for us it’s a little different. For me, whenever we have a bad day, I’m literally upset and so she stays after me all the time to be more upbeat. I think people appreciate that (candor). It’s not the same old, “We’re gonna get going,” when we’re two laps down. That stuff gets old, and when you’re performing at the level that Ryan (Blaney) is now and our team, you’re gonna have good days. You’re gonna have bad days, too, but the bar’s been raised so whenever we are having a bad day, I can just say, “This is bad. Sorry. We’re done.”

Let’s say a PR person was just doing that for their team, they might get blowback from sponsors or the executives saying, “You can’t say that about our team!” So do you ever get any criticism from your family like, “Dude, back it down a little bit?”

My dad. For anybody who doesn’t know my family or know how my dad and his brother (Len) are, they’re very conservative people, and you don’t cuss in public, you don’t make a fool of yourself. And so if anything, I go too far for what their taste would be.

And early on, I think my dad was going behind and reading a lot of what I would post on social media. He’s kind of lessened or unleashed the reins. At first, he was very cautious, but it’s been a popular approach as what you’ve been saying. So I think as long as I don’t cuss or say something that’s completely controversial — “Vote Trump” or whatever — he’s not gonna care.

What kind of reaction have you gotten from fans of the team in regards to your approach of how you handle the account?

Ninety-nine out of 100 people like it. You’re always gonna get your trolls and the ones that just want to give you a hard time. If you go through their accounts and look, they’re that way with everybody; it’s not just one single thing that I’ve done.

I try to be honest about it, but it’s a different approach to where I want people to think that it’s funny, too. The fastest way to make someone like you is to either be the best, which we’re trying to do that, but there’s only one Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano. If you’re not that, the next best way is to be funny. That’s my belief, and that’s the fastest way that I’ll start following someone and have interest in them. It’s not necessarily just with social media, it’s everyday life. I mean, people like upbeat people.

But you can be upbeat and funny when you’re having a bad day as well. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it is what it is. I didn’t go to school to do any of this, it’s all trial and error, and I guess what I’ve probably done is I’ve sampled a little bit of every different style and I’ll just go back and look at the reaction, the metrics, the Twitter analytics — that’s a pretty neat tool — and see what people think. I mean, our following has exploded lately.

I think what makes it interesting is that it’s so authentic and genuine. You know that you’re not getting some BS; you know that this is real. And I think in NASCAR specifically, fans can see through BS pretty easily. So if you’re being real and authentic and being your real self, even if it’s you speaking on behalf of the team on that account, I think it sort of endears it to people in some ways.

We’re at a disadvantage in many ways. We’re a single-car team, and when I compare our account to the Roush Fenway account, we’ve got half the number of followers, give or take, and then I have to remind myself that would be the equivalent of looking at one of their cars, because we’re just one.

I think what we do is respectable, but again, I have no training in this. During the week I have no Photoshop skills. I look at some of these accounts and they’re able to whip up all these cool graphics. I can’t do any of that, so I’ve got to make it up somehow and make it interesting. During the week they’ve got dedicated people to do this stuff. I’m doing other things; I’m doing merchandising or whatever. I just try to make it real, that’s all.

What is your actual title and what does that entail? How do you typically spend your week?

Well, my business cards would say “Director of Business Development” and I’ve added an “… and Merchandising” to that because I have a hand in all the artwork for the shirts and hats, apparel — that’s another thing that a lot of people (have been) really drawn to like and buy lately. So I do a little bit of that.

Like I said, my dad and his brother run the team, and then beyond that we all kind of chip in. I go to the owner’s council meetings with them; it’s just a family effort. If there’s too much for one person, somebody else will come along and pick up the slack. It’s not compartmentalized; everybody has access to the same information. There’s no secrets. We all just try to make the team do as best as we can.

How do you draw the line on the difference between your personal account and the team account? Do you have a different tone on one than the other, or do you feel like you’re the same on both?

How do you do it with @jeff_gluck2? I don’t know. Again, it’s weird because all the information that I’ve gotten — and I don’t have a lot — but it seems like everything that NASCAR experts beat into the social media world is to be yourself and share aspects of your family life and this and that.

So I try to do that because we have a lot of people who are familiar with us beyond just the Ryan Blaney side and the race car side. There’s a lot of people who know our family history and where I fall into place in the family lineage and my kids (Riley and Bailey). So there are people who are familiar with that. I try to do a decent balance of the two, and sometimes I just get carried away and put too much attention into one or the other. It’s hard.

Do you think that if social media had been around during the prime of your career when you were racing, would that had made a difference in how long you lasted? You’re very witty, obviously, and maybe you could have developed more of a personality that the fans got to see. Would that have changed anything that went on in your career?

Maybe. It may have made it worse; I may have gotten kicked out quicker. (Laughs) I don’t know.

But it’s certainly a tool where if you use it and you use it well, it works. I mean, you look at Dale Jr. and then you look at Chase Elliott; you have two extremes there, one that uses social media to its full extent and one guy who doesn’t. And it’s not necessarily where one is right and wrong, but if you’re comfortable in that environment and you’re comfortable sharing every aspect of your life and showing yourself out mowing the lawn or at the dentist or whatever, then I think people appreciate that. And if you’re not, I think they respect that. But if it’s something that you’re comfortable doing, I feel like it’s a huge advantage.

What other forms of social media do you feel are important for the team side as a space you need to be involved in?

If I could grow one area — and again my sister does a lot of this too; she does most of the Facebook side and I handle the Twitter side — but I feel like we lack in Snapchat, Instagram. It depends on who you ask, but some people say Snapchat is equally or more important than Twitter.

But there’s two of us, and we can’t do everything; we can’t be parents and do the jobs that we do with the race team and be on all these different social media outlets 24 hours a day. That’s a lot. And then again, there’s only one car; we can only show so much. And when you’re Stewart-Haas or Penske Racing, you’ve got so many other things you can show and share. We don’t really have that. It’s just one team, you know?

I could be wrong, but are you anti-capital letters or something? You always tweet lowercase letters.

It’s whatever my phone does. And then I do have my laptop on during the race, so I’m not gonna take the time to worry about punctuation. I’m not one of those (people) who will respond to somebody and say “their” (versus there). I don’t care. If you get the point across, that’s all that really matters to me. I’m not like some who will do it in all caps. I just do what’s natural.

Is there anything else that you want people to know about what you do on social media or what the team does or your life or anything like that?

Again, we do the best we can, and there are some people who don’t really like that style, that sarcastic, witty (style). Some people might take offense to it if you’re one of the ones I respond to. It’s hard to understand somebody’s tone and their demeanor through looking at words on a screen — you don’t really know what they mean. But if it doesn’t follow up with a blocking or something like that, then I didn’t mean it in a bad way.