In the NASCAR on NBC podcast Monday afternoon, Kyle Petty compared Penske’s Ryan Blaney to popular retired driver Kasey Kahne. He said, “everybody wants to talk about what he can do, but he never does anything.”
What You Need to Know:
- Kyle Petty loves his hot takes. Monday after Las Vegas was no different as he compared Ryan Blaney to Kasey Kahne saying neither performed to potential.
- Statistically, Blaney has better and more consistent averages than Kahne. The argument can be made that neither performs up to their expectation.
- While there has always been three or four drivers everyone just expects to win any given Sunday, fans also look at drivers who consistently finish toward the front and expect them to break out at any moment. Kahne and Blaney fit the latter mold as their fans were/are left waiting for the turning point in their driver’s career.
Kahne drove 14 full-time Cup Series seasons for various teams from 2004 to 2017. Over that stretch, he finished in the top-10 175 times and collected 18 wins. 2006 was his most prolific season. He visited victory lane six times and finished in the top-10 13 more races. However, his highest championship finish was 4th in 2012 when he won two races. Kahne’s average finish is 17.7 across 529 races.
Ryan Blaney is in the beginning of his 8th full-time effort at the Cup level. He has finished 7th in the championship twice and only missed the playoffs once – his first eligible season. YRB has visited victory lane 7 times and finished top-10 112 times in his full seasons. Blaney has an average finish of 15.5 across 273 races.
So is the comparison fair statistically? Blaney has just 63 less top-10s in 256 less races. Blaney consistently finishes higher in points than Kahne did in his first eight seasons – or his last for that matter. Another statistical comparison is the percentage of laps led out of total laps completed. Blaney has been at the point 50% more than Kahne has with 4.5% vs 3%. For perspective, the winningest Cup driver who spans Kahne and Blaney’s career is Jimmie Johnson. He led almost 10% of the laps he completed.
Statistically, it seems that Blaney is ahead of Kahne on average where Kahne’s success was earlier on in his career. Subjectively, both drivers seem to underperform their expectations which commonly put them at the front of their respective fields.
Five years ago, Kahne chimed in on the “haters” and those who say he has done “nothing” and is “barely average.”
In the Stands
Right off the bat, fans questioned Petty’s position to make this claim at all.
Sort of a “look who’s talking” kind of take from someone who won 8 of the 829 races he started and averaged a 21.3 finish. In fact, Petty finished top-10 less than Kasey Kahne in 300 more races. But with a name like Petty, Kyle’s results certainly failed to live up to expectations as well.
Fans also asked if Kyle’s analogy was as much of a slight as it seemed at first blush.
Other Tweeters talked about the obstacles the two drivers have overcome to find the success that they have.
There is some flaws in Kyle’s argument, starting with the fact that a Ford won the championship in 2022. Blaney also finished 13th after qualifying 3rd on Sunday. Looking at Sunday’s result though, Blaney worked his way up to 8th on the track and lost 4 positions on pit road on the last restart (plus Truex staying on track).
Fans on Reddit also chimed in on some flaws in Blaney and the 12 team as a whole.
How often did this happen in 2022 as well?
Other fans completely agreed with Kyle Petty.
Couch Racer, run by spotters Brett Griffin and Freddie Kraft jumped all over the “freezing cold take”
On Your Screen
See Eric Estepp’s reaction to Petty’s comments on Out Of The Groove.
Time will tell if the comparison is valid, but it’s safe to say that neither driver deserves the “never does anything” portion. Statistically by every measure other than years or laps completed, Blaney and Kahne have done more than Kyle Petty.
Blaney consistently finds himself in the playoffs and toward the front of the pack. It is that consistent performance that creates a higher expectation of a breakout winning season. After 12 top-5s in 2022 finishing 8th in the playoffs, fans are looking for YRB to improve in 2023.