It was a year ago this September when 19-year-old Ryan Blaney burst upon the NASCAR scene becoming the youngest winner in Camping World Truck Series history.
Since then Blaney's stock has only grown; a reputation he cemented last week at Kentucky Speedway when he recorded his first career Nationwide Series win. A full-time driver in the Truck Series, Blaney was making only his second Nationwide start of the season for Penske Racing, which is why it's not a surprise people are wondering what's next for him.
"There has been very, very little talks with other teams," Blaney said Wednesday. "But right now my loyalty is to Penske Racing and finishing out this 2013 season very strong -- either in that Nationwide car, if I get another race, or finishing out the Truck season very strong for Brad Keselowski Racing.
"Just really focused on that right now, and then in the offseason, we'll see what doors open up or if we progress here with Penske like planned. So we'll find out here in the coming months, but right now my loyalty is to Penske and finishing out this 2013 season very strong."
Even before his triumph Saturday night, Blaney was already being rumored for future opportunities. One of those possibilities includes Furniture Row Racing, which needs to replace Kurt Busch who is departing for Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the year. Furniture Row has made it known it would prefer to sign a young driver who can grow with the burgeoning single-car team and is believed to be interested in Blaney.
Considering his youth and his success in trucks -- in this his rookie year he sits fifth in points with a win at the challenging Pocono Raceway -- Blaney would seem to be an ideal candidate.
However, Roger Penske would like to keep Blaney within his organization. He even appears set to let longtime driver and current Nationwide points leader Sam Hornish Jr. leave at the end of the season to pursue other rides be in Sprint Cup or NASCAR's second-tiered series. This would then free a spot for Blaney to run in more Nationwide races, something he wants to do.
"Obviously, I'd like to race a lot more and wish I had more Nationwide races to get me more experience in those cars," Blaney said. "So that's really what I'd like, but it's not my decision to make. It's the guys over there at Penske and knowing what they can do and what they think I'm ready for."
Blaney says he would prefer to stay with Penske and "hopefully it pays off for us here at the end."
For now, though, Blaney remains focused on his current situation driving for Brad Keselowski Racing where he will be competing in this weekend's Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"Any time you win in any series, your confidence level as a driver goes way up," Blaney said. "...The confidence of the team goes way up, even when it's my truck team. They're really confident right now and really pumped to go to Las Vegas.
"Just overall, it helps, and you hope to make something of that momentum going into the next week and just still keep building off of that and having good runs after that."