Ryan Blaney will be ready to climb into his Team Penske Ford Mustang Dark Horse for the Daytona 500, but the reigning series champion will be working through continued soreness.

The Pesnke driver took a hard hit into the outside wall in the trioval at Daytona International Speedway during his qualifying race Thursday night. He was hooked in the right rear by William Byron, who had been knocked out of shape by Kyle Busch in the draft. It was the second time Blaney crashed at Daytona in six months, nose-first, from a right rear hook.

“I’m sore that’s for sure,” Blaney said Saturday morning. “I’m probably more sore today than yesterday. I feel like the second day is always the day of more soreness – the neck area, all down the back, just muscles getting strained. That’s kind of the biggest thing. Everything else felt fine, just all of your muscles down your shoulders and stuff gets pulled in weird areas that you’re not used to, so that’s the most sore today.

“I’ve been trying to be ginger with it. Everything else I felt fine with, mentally and stuff like that, so that was good. I’ll be fine to go. Hopefully, if we were to run tomorrow, I’d be good to go then. If I get another buffer day, if we run Monday, I’ll be even better. Just a little sore, but that stuff will pass.”

A physical therapist from the Team Penske camp will be back at Daytona before the race. The group went home after the Duel races, so Blaney hasn’t had much work done for the soreness but will use that resource if he’s still hurting before the Daytona 500.

The frustration has since passed, but Blaney remains adamant about such crashes not happening again. It was the third consecutive race at Daytona that Blaney felt he’d been put in that position, and Thursday night he didn’t shy away from criticizing his fellow drivers for the “awful pushes” that create the crashes.

Blaney revealed the hit Thursday night was a 55G impact. In August, when he was sent nose-first into the outside wall in Turn 4 when he was hooked in the right rear by a spinning Ty Gibbs, it was a 70G impact. The data comes from the data mouthpiece Blaney wears, something he began doing after hitting an unprotected wall nose-first at Nashville Superspeedway in late June.

“I feel like the Nashville hit was by far the hardest hit I’ve ever taken,” Blaney said. “The mouthpiece data has been really good for us to see because you have the black box data from the car, but that’s just showing the car g-load and impact. The important one is what does the driver feel and take? It’s a huge part of the equation and that’s how you separate, ‘OK, the car took this impact. The driver takes this impact.’ I didn’t have a mouthpiece in Nashville. I’ve been wearing it every week since then just to make sure, because you never know when it can happen, and it’s good to have that data.

“Wake Forest has done a good job of really working hard at that and those folks are great, so I don’t know what Nashville would have been. It felt way worse and I look at the mental side of it. Mentally, I was way more messed up after Nashville than I was at these two hits at this racetrack, but Nashville was by far the hardest one. The best data I have to go off of is these two.”

A week after the Nashville crash, Blaney admitted he’d suffered from concussion-like symptoms. Before competing at the Chicago street course, the race after Nashville, Blaney worked with Dr. Micky Collins, who founded the sports medicine concussion program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Collins has experience working with concussed drivers, most notably doing so with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Blaney has dealt with the immediate soreness and recovered from the multiple hard hits he’s suffered over the last year, but he hasn’t given much thought to the cumulative toll all of those have taken.

“It’s more than I’d like to take, but that’s part of our sport,” Blaney said. “You understand that you do this for a reason, and you understand the risks of it, and it’s just what we do. I don’t ever think about the bad side of this. If you’re ever worried about strapping in the car of like, ‘I hope I don’t take a big hit again,’ that’s just not a mentality of anybody. All you try to do is find out how to win the race, and you understand when you sign up, I understood when I signed up for this thing watching dad race that there’s dangers of it and things are going to happen.

“I don’t really see that it’s taken a toll on me personally. It stinks sitting around being sore and having a hard time moving around the next morning, but you just get over it and take Advil and figure it out. That’s all you can do, but that’s why we love it and why we do it. You never think of the negative side of it. You just try to figure out when those things do happen, ‘Hey, did we do all we can to make sure I was as safe as possible?’ And if the answer is yes, awesome. We checked that box. We did a great job and, if not, you try to work on things to get it better, and that’s all you can do. There’s only so much you can do.”