Blaney keen to move forward with new team leader Hassler


Ryan Blaney doesn’t have a deep history with Jonathan Hassler, but knew enough for Hassler to be on the shortlist to take on the role of team manager in Blaney’s squad next season. Blaney had his say on who would succeed Todd Gordon and admitted on Sunday morning at the Talladega Superspeedway that he was happy with the decision to make Hassler this guy and work with him in the future.

“There were a handful of options we were looking at… and he was one of the guys,” Blaney said.

It was during a meeting with team owner Roger Penske, Austin Cindric – who will take over the No.2 Ford Mustang next year – and executive vice president Walt Czarnecki that Hassler was mentioned as a possibility. for Blaney’s crew in 2022. Cindric inherits the car from Brad Keselowski and team, led by Jeremy Bullins. Paul Wolfe and Joey Logano stay together, and Blaney needed a leader.

The reunion came when Hassler took over as Ford’s No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing crew chief with Matt DiBenedetto, which was held in early June ahead of the All-Star race at Texas Motor Speedway. While DiBenedetto missed the playoffs, the team saw improvement under Hassler.

“I was interested to see how he was doing, and I think he did a great job on that 21 car and talked to all these guys out there and the Wood Brothers; they really like it, ”Blaney said. “I’ve known Jonathan for years – he’s been with Penske for a while – but you don’t have that personal relationship with another engineer from another team.

“But we sat down and talked about all of these different things, the race outside the race, the good qualities, the bad qualities, what do you like, don’t like. He and I got along very well. I think his performance on the track is really visible, and I also like him a lot as a person, and his personality is also great.

Jonathan Hassler will transfer from the No.21 Wood Brothers Racing squad, where he helped improve performance in the second half of this year. Nigel Kinrade / Motorsport Pictures

Hassler is a longtime Penske engineer, but he and Blaney have never crossed paths before for an extended period. When Blaney was in the Xfinity series, Hassler never worked on this car. Then Hassler went from engineer on Keselowski’s car to Logano’s car and now works with the Wood Brothers.

“He kind of led this test that I did in Texas for the Next Gen car,” Blaney said of the May test. “It was cool working with him and hearing him on the radio, what’s his vocabulary. You kind of get a flow for someone, so it was nice to work with them in this test.

Season 22 will be Blaney’s seventh full year in the NASCAR Cup Series. He has worked with Gordon for two years.

Next year will be Hassler’s first full season as a team manager. Hassler was interim team manager with Joey Logano earlier this year at Dover and finished fifth. In 15 races to date, with DiBenedetto, the duo have five top-10s.

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