After making eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts with Our Motorsports in 2021, 21-year-old Blaine Perkins finally has a major opportunity in stock car racing. CR7 Motorsports, owned by Codie Rohrbaugh, will field Perkins with a full-time ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2022.
“I’m really excited,” Perkins recently told The Podium Finish. “I felt like it was a really good home for me to land. I feel like we’ll be able to run really well this year and surprise a lot of people.”
This will be Perkins’ first full-time season in a NASCAR national series ride. However, he spent multiple seasons driving full-time throughout series within NASCAR Roots.
Perkins made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut with Billy McAnally Racing in 2015 and raced full time for Steve Portenga Racing in 2016 and 2017. He made five starts in the ARCA Menards Series between 2017 and 2018 with Mason Mitchell Motorsports but never made it to victory lane in either series.
In a 2018 race at Talladega Superspeedway, that nearly changed. Perkins led 12 laps and contended for the win before running out of fuel in a late restart. He fell to the back and eventually finished 13th.
“We had some really stiff competition. I used to race against Noah Gragson, Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton,” he said. “That whole year that I ran with Mason Mitchell Motorsports, we ran really well. We ran competitively, top-five in most of the races and we had a few top-10 finishes.
“As a racecar driver, it definitely made me better coming to this point.”
Perkins capped off his 2018 ARCA slate with an eighth-place finish at Elko Speedway but decided to take a step back in 2019. He wanted to focus on short-track racing at home in California and found major success.
Under the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, Perkins won the California State Championship, as well as track championships at Irwindale Speedway and Kern County Speedway.
“I wanted to go run and prove that I can compete for wins,” Perkins said. “We finished top 30 in points that year in the country and had a really successful year… It definitely benefitted in the long term.”
In 2020, Perkins returned to ARCA. He started all 11 races for Sunrise Ford Racing in the ARCA Menards Series West, winning three times and placing second in points to Jesse Love III.
“I was in a really good opportunity that year,” he said. “We had two poles early on, and then on the middle of that season, we got on another hot streak. We got another pole and won back-to-back races. Unfortunately, we just had a couple of issues after that.
“We were a championship team and we proved that.”
At the end of 2020, Perkins took a leave of absence from Pepperdine University and looked to move to the East Coast from native California in search of a NASCAR national series ride. With the help of former NASCAR driver Bill Sedgwick and Perkins’ former ARCA team, he inked the deal with Our Motorsports.
Perkins used the seat time as a learning opportunity, visiting some tracks he’s never raced before. His best finish came at Talladega, where he placed 13th and won Stage 2.
“I knew running eight races in the Xfinity Series would be very difficult,” Perkins said. “The track size is such a big difference. I’m used to more of the shorter tracks on the West Coast. I had run a couple of the mile and a half (tracks) a few years ago in the ARCA stint, but I had never been to any of the tracks other than Talladega and Pocono.
“Going to Atlanta and Las Vegas for the first time was definitely a big eye-opener.”
But now, Perkins will have an opportunity to showcase his talent running all 23 races for Rohrbaugh. Perkins had known Rohrbaugh from racing the past and shared a shop with the team while at Our.
“We’re going to have some really good equipment,” Perkins said. “There are 14-16 races you got to be somewhat smart about to make sure you point yourself into the playoffs. There are only 10 spots out there, it’s not many, but I definitely think we’ll be fighting for one of those spots.”
To guide him through the 2022 season, Perkins will lean on one of his biggest mentors: NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. A 51-time Truck Series winner himself, Hornaday Jr. is a native Californian, just like Perkins.
“His name is synonymous with Southern California and racing,” Perkins said. “Just being able to get to know him and his family, they’re just great people who have really helped guide me this past year and into this year.”
With many years of racing up to this point, Perkins feels confident about what he and his team can accomplish in 2022.
“I’m ready for it,” he said. “My goal is to make the playoffs. And I think it’s a realistic goal. I wouldn’t be too shocked if we’re running upfront [and] competing for some wins by the end of it.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season-opener is set for Friday, Feb. 6 at Daytona International Speedway. The race will be broadcast nationally on FS1.