Tire Issues Plague Tommy Baldwin Racing at Martinsville
Blaney Drove the No. 36 ALL SPORT Chevrolet to a 30th-place Finish
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 4, 2011) – Tires were the word of the weekend at Martinsville Speedway, especially for the Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet team. Dave Blaney drove the No. 36 Chevrolet to a 29th-place starting position and looked poised for a solid point finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Goody’s Fast Relief 500. An issue with the right-front tire caused four flat tires, and he finished 30th, 14 laps down.
The TBR team unloaded quickly and utilized the two practice sessions on Friday to test adjustments to the No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet for the race. On Saturday, Blaney posted the 29th-fastest lap in qualifying.
The No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet took the green flag for the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 from the 15th row. By lap 16, Blaney drove to the 24th position and radioed to the ALL SPORT Body Quencher crew that the Chevrolet needed a little more forward drive. He continued that the car had good rotation through the corner but was loose. Blaney worked to get into a rhythm until the first caution on lap 53.
Due to the timing of the yellow flag, Blaney got a wave around to the lead lap and drove down pit road for service. The TBR team made a trackbar and air pressure adjustment during the four-tire pit stop. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 61 with the No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet in the 26th spot. Blaney continued to race in the mid-20s and radioed to the crew on lap 86 that the car was tight when he hit the throttle. Despite the tight condition, spotter Carl Miller explained to Blaney that he was getting off the corner better this run.
On lap 107, the tire issues began for the No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet when the right-front tire blew for the first time of the day. A caution flag waved on lap 108, and Blaney drove down pit road to change the flat tire. After the pit stop, the TBR team quickly assessed the problem and discovered there was a cut in the sidewall of the right-front tire.
When the green flag waved on lap 114, Blaney restarted 38th, two laps down. Crew chief Tommy Baldwin reassured Blaney that the team could work to get back on the lead lap. Another caution came on lap 126 for a two-car incident in turn two. Blaney told the crew that the car was pushing when he hit the gas. Baldwin called for the team to make a two-tire stop and go back on the trackbar and make a wedge adjustment. The No. 36 Chevrolet drove off pit road in the 36th position, two laps down.
During the next green-flag run, Blaney drove the No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet to the top position of the cars two laps down. On lap 175, another right-front tire blew on the No. 36, and a yellow flag waved for Blaney on lap 176. Since Blaney stopped on the track with a flat tire, NASCAR issued the team a two-lap penalty. Blaney drove down pit road to replace the flat, and the ALL SPORT Body Quencher team made another four-tire pit stop and trackbar adjustment.
Blaney restarted 37th, five laps down. The fifth yellow flag flew on lap 203, and the TBR team made another four-tire pit stop and an air pressure adjustment. Thirteen green-flag laps later, a major incident in turn three brought out the red flag to fix the wall. The team decided to stay out to get the wave around when the yellow flag came out. Once green-flag racing resumed, Blaney spun on lap 231 when he slowed for a four-car incident in turn three. He drove the No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet down pit road for another four-tire pit stop and air pressure and wedge adjustment.
When the field went back to green on lap 238, Blaney was in the 34th position, six laps down, but still racing with the No. 71 car, who sat one spot in front of the No. 36 team in owner points prior to Martinsville. The No. 36 Chevrolet continued to run tight, and the team worked to loosen up the car. Blaney ran good lap times and began to catch up to the No. 71 through the next 87 laps. During that run, Blaney noticed that the batteries were having issues and tried to determine if the battery problems were affecting the right-front brake fans.
Every time we got back to where we needed to be, we had another right-front flat
The first set of green-flag pit stops began, and Blaney drove down pit road on lap 325 for four tires and fuel. Once everyone stopped, the No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet sat in the 31st position, eight laps down and in front of the No. 71. A caution on lap 353 allowed the team to change four tires and make wedge, trackbar and air pressure adjustments.
The field restarted on lap 359 with the ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet in the 31st spot. On lap 364, the No. 13, who occupied the 35th spot in owner points leading into the weekend, pulled into the garage with problems. Hoping to capitalize on the day, the TBR team focused on finishing the race clean, knowing that they needed 10 spots over the No. 13 and four over the No. 71. The team stayed out during the 10th caution on lap 372, with Blaney still in the 30th position.
Tire issues struck again on lap 430 with another right-front flat tire. Blaney made his way back to pit road to get tires. By lap 435, Blaney was back out and in the 31st position, 12 laps down. A yellow on lap 465 allowed the team another wave around to put the No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet 11 laps down. Blaney worked his way up to the 28th position by lap 478 before another right-front flat tire on lap 479. Blaney drove down pit road once again and came out 30th, 14 laps down. The No. 36 ALL SPORT Body Quencher Chevrolet completed the rest of the 500 laps and finished in the 30th spot, 14 laps down.
Despite the disappointing day, the TBR team decreased the distance outside the top-35 from nine points to five but fell back to 38th in the NSCS Owner Points. Blaney is now 34th in NSCS Driver Points.
“It was a rough day,” explained Blaney. “Every time we got back to where we needed to be, we had another right-front flat. It was a frustrating race, but we never gave up. We unloaded off the truck with a good car and had the opportunity to work on little things in practice. We qualified pretty well and felt that we could have a really good points day. The car was tight but fast. It’s disappointing that we don’t have the finish we needed.”