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How Ryan Blaney and Girlfriend Gianna Tulio Have Been Celebrating NASCAR Championship
Team Penske’s Ford driver and his long-term love are taking a bite out of the Big Apple.
After his second-place finish at Phoenix Raceway Sunday (behind Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain) earned 29-year-old Ryan Blaney his first, much-desired NASCAR Cup Series title, the Team Penske’s wheelman and his proud girlfriend Gianna Tulio have been in a New York state of mind.
From victory lane to his well-deserved victory lap, Blaney cruised into the City That Never Sleeps as part of his Champion’s Tour for winning this year’s Bill France Cup — and Tulio was there with him, every step of the way.
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Following the celebration in the desert with his legendary racing family and good friend Chase Elliott, Blaney traded in his fire suit for a monkey suit before rallying for myriad press interviews and media engagements, including a morning show stop.
Despite team owner Roger Penske’s not-so-subtle hints for Blaney to lose the beard he’s cultivated throughout the postseason, the North Carolina native’s face fur was out in full force appearing on Live with Kelly and Mark hosts Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark Consuelos. Rocking a suit to compliment her beau’s classic look, Tulio also jumped in front of the camera for a couple of snaps with Blaney and the co-hosts.
Coming from a family of illustrious racers, Blaney, a third-generation racer, revealed to Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos how important it was to be exposed to competitive motorsports at a young age, especially by his ultimate role model: his father Dave Blaney.
“I grew up around the sport,” Blaney said on the morning show. “My grandfather was a dirt racer from the '60s all the way to the 2000s. My dad was a dirt track driver from Ohio, and then he transitioned into NASCAR in the early 2000s, and I just grew up around it.”
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“I just grew up wanting to be like my dad, and I was really lucky to have a shot to do what he did, and to race,” continued Blaney. “And to look back on that stuff in my childhood and being around the race tracks and the shops, and having a dad to look up to, and then him still supporting me our championship weekend. ... I think my mom is the biggest MVP though too, how much she sacrificed when I was a kid. So, it was amazing to have the whole family there.”
Responding to Ripa's thought that it must have been "very emotional" for his family to be there for his first NASCAR Cup Series Championship victory, Blaney said, “It definitely was [emotional], I think for everybody. My mom, dad, sisters, me. ... A lot of people went into it. A lot of people helped me out along the way, and supported me, and that’s something I’ll never be able to thank them enough for.”
In addition to Blaney posing with his trophy in Times Square in front of a giant celebratory digital tribute to his well-earned victory, Blaney and Tulio followed up their talk show tour in style with a photoshoot atop Manhattan's 102-story Empire State Building.
“Feeling on top of the world,” NASCAR captioned the photo of the couple alongside the trophy. “Literally and figuratively."