Blaney and TBR Rally to Finish 26th at Pocono
No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet holds onto 32nd in Owner Points
Dave Blaney and the Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) team started from the 40th spot and worked on the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet throughout the day to improve the handling of the racecar in the 5-Hour Energy 500. Blaney drove the Golden Corral Chevrolet to a 26th-place finish at Pocono Raceway this weekend. The TBR team held onto the 32nd position in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Owner Points and extended the lead over 36th to 50 points.
The TBR team unloaded the Golden Corral Chevrolet and posted the 33rd-fastest lap of 55.133 seconds in first practice on Friday while working on the Chevrolet’s handling. The team continued to try different setups in final practice and posted the 41st-quick lap of 55.604 seconds. The NSCS qualified 40th for the 5-Hour Energy 500 with a lap of 53.874 seconds.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet took the green flag for the 5-Hour Energy 500 from the 40th spot. Blaney quickly worked his way up to the 33rd spot by the first caution flag on lap 10. Crew Chief and substitute spotter Tommy Baldwin called for the No. 36 to stay out, as the field would have a lap-20 competition caution. Blaney told the team the car was hurting in turns two and three. He described the condition as tight rolling into the turn and radioed that the Chevrolet had good forward drive.
The green flag flew on lap 12 with the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet in the 20th position. By the lap-20 competition caution, Blaney fell to the 36th spot. During the caution period, he pit for four tires, fuel and an adjustment. He restarted on lap 22 in the 31st spot, and by lap 30, he radioed that the Golden Corral Chevrolet was brutally tight off turn three. The TBR team made the first green-flag pit stop of the day on lap 44. The crew changed four tires, added fuel and made a trackbar adjustment. Blaney drove back out on the track in the 33rd position and radioed that the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet started off tighter during this run.
Blaney fell a lap down on lap 64 while running in the 30th position. The team made a green-flag pit stop on lap 70 and once again changed four tires, added fuel and made a trackbar adjustment. By lap 78, the Buckeye Bullet radioed that the Golden Corral Chevrolet was the tightest it had been all day and needed a lot more front grip. When the third sequence of green-flag pit stops began, Blaney was in the 29th spot, one lap down. The team made a four-tire pit stop on lap 95 and put rubber in the right rear to battle the tight condition.
By the halfway point of the 200-lap race, Blaney drove in the 32nd position, one lap down, and by the lap-112 caution, he worked the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet up to the 28th spot. Baldwin called for the No. 36 to stay out in order to get the wave around to the lead lap. Blaney restarted 28th on lap 117. He worked up to the 25th position before making a green-flag pit stop on lap 118. The TBR team made a four-tire pit stop and an air pressure adjustment.
Blaney returned to the track in 28th, one lap down. By lap 125, the Hartford, Ohio native radioed that the Golden Corral Chevrolet was having transmission problems and he had lost third gear. By lap 130, he worked his way back onto the lead lap, still in the 28th spot. By lap 145, the TBR team made another four-tire, green-flag pit stop. When the caution waved on lap 156, the Golden Corral team utilized the opportunity to stay out and return to the lead lap. Blaney restarted in the 26th position with 40 laps to go.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet ran in the top-25 until the team’s final pit stop on lap 174. The team changed four tires and added fuel on the green-flag stop. Blaney radioed that the Chevrolet was turning better than it had all day, while he drove in the 27th spot, one lap down. Blaney drove the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet up to the 26th position when the checkered flag fell.
I think we learned a lot.
The solid finish kept the No. 36 Golden Corral in 32nd, within three points of the 31st spot, in the NSCS Owner Points. The TBR team is now 50 points ahead of the No. 7 in 36th. Blaney held onto the 31st position in NSCS Owner Points. He sits 18 points behind David Gilliland in 30th and nine points ahead of Casey Mears in 32nd.
“We just weren’t fast enough all weekend,” said Blaney. “We were great in turn one but really lost a lot of ground in turns two and three. The team worked really hard making the car better throughout the race, and they did. For not having third gear and not being able to shift for the last 75 laps, the car was really good by the end of the race. The good part is that every week we improve throughout the race, which is a good sign that we will continue to get better at the bigger tracks. This was the first time TBR has run a full race at Pocono, and I think we learned a lot.”