JOLIET, Ill. (July 15, 2007) -- Sunday's event at Chicagoland Speedway marked the beginning of the second half of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series campaign, and Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar team hoped to start it off strong. After qualifying...
JOLIET, Ill. (July 15, 2007) -- Sunday's event at Chicagoland Speedway marked the beginning of the second half of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series campaign, and Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar team hoped to start it off strong. After qualifying in the 15th spot for the USG Sheetrock 400, Blaney ran in the top 25 for most of the day before a left rear tire blew, sending the Caterpillar Camry spinning hard into the wall. Blaney was credited with a 40th-place finish in the event.
Blaney was the 12th of 49 competitors to take to the track for qualifying Friday afternoon. Because the No. 22 Bill Davis Racing team stood outside the top 35 in the owners' point standings, it was up to Blaney to drive his Toyota Camry solidly into the starting lineup. After posting speeds among the top 10 fastest in the practice session Friday morning, the team was optimistic about its chances for a good starting spot. Blaney posted a speed of 181.038 mph during his qualifying run later that day and was set to line up in the 15th spot on the starting grid.
The green flag waved for the start of the event, and Blaney began to fall back through the field. He communicated to the crew that the handling of the Cat car was tight in the center of the corners. A pit stop on lap 51 of the 267-lap event enabled the crew to add fuel to the car and bolt on a new set of four tires with air pressure adjustments already made.
Blaney stood in the 21st spot when the first caution flag of the day waved. The crew once again took that opportunity to make changes to the car. Crew chief Tommy Baldwin called for fresh right side tires and a wedge adjustment, and the crew sent the No. 22 Toyota back on track in the 15th position for the lap 64 restart.
Blaney continued to struggle with a tight handling condition, and the crew continued to make adjustments to the balance of the car. Blaney went a lap down to the leader after a lap 115 green flag pit stop during which the No. 22 car stalled leaving the pit stall. The crew was forced to push it several stalls down pit road before it re-fired. At the halfway point of the race Blaney held the 26th spot.
Blaney drove his way back into the top 25 with just over 100 laps to go, but the car went from tight to loose in a hurry. Blaney reported to the crew that he was doing all he could not to wreck. Things got a little better not long after that, as the car began to settle down a bit, but the improvement was short lived. After mentioning via radio that he had a big vibration in the car, he drove into turn one on lap 200. The left rear tire blew, sending the car careening into both the wall and another car. Though Blaney was unharmed in the accident, the damage to the car was too extensive to fix. The Caterpillar Racing team was credited with a 40th-place finish in the event.
The Nextel Cup Series will take a well-deserved weekend off before heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in two weeks for the Allstate 400. Qualifying for the event at the famed speedway will be held Saturday, and Sunday afternoon's race is scheduled for a 2 p.m. ET start. The race will broadcast on ESPN television, IMS Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. Dave Blaney is also scheduled to stop in Pevely, Mo., Wednesday, July 25 to compete in an All-Star event at I-55 Speedway, the dirt track owned by fellow NASCAR racer Ken Schrader.