Team Penske brings Blaney back in 2018 from Wood Brothers

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) Ryan Blaney will make the move to Team Penske and drive a third entry for the team in 2018.

Blaney will drive the No. 12 Ford and join Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in team owner Roger Penske's NASCAR lineup. The 23-year-old Blaney was signed to Penske and farmed out to race for Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney won his first career NASCAR Cup race this season at Pocono.

''This is a huge opportunity for me and my career,'' said Blaney, a third-generation driver. ''I've always enjoyed racing whatever car I was in and trying to win each and every race. I've had some great moments with both Team Penske and the Wood Brothers over the last few years. I know for a fact I wouldn't be where I am today without Roger, Eddie and Len (Wood) and the opportunities their organizations have given me.''

Logano and Keselowski both signed long-term extensions with Penske this season. Penske has not run three cars full-time since the 2010 season with Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr.

Blaney has three top-five finishes this season and is 12th in the standings. His 2018 sponsor and crew chief were not announced.

Penske also will need to acquire a charter to run the third car.

''For some time now, we have wanted to bring Ryan in to run a third car for us, but things just needed to make sense from a timing and business perspective,'' Penske said. ''We have been working on making this a reality and 2018 is the right opportunity to make this move and return our organization to a three-car team. The benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood Bothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.''

Paul Menard will leave Richard Childress Racing and drive for Wood Brothers Racing next season. Menard won the 2011 Brickyard 400 for his lone Cup win driving for RCR, which did not immediately announce his replacement.

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More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

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