Blaney Scores a 13th-Place Finish in the Golden Corral Chevrolet
TBR Makes the Top-35 for First Time in Team History
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 1, 2011) – Dave Blaney drove the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet to a 13th-place finish in the Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 and tied Tommy Baldwin Racing’s (TBR) best team finish posted by Steve Park at Daytona in the 2010 season. The finish at Richmond International Raceway put TBR into the top-35 in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Owner Points for the first time in the team’s history.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet was fast off the truck and posted solid times in practice. Blaney qualified in the 29th position and took the green flag from the 15th row, next to five-time NSCS Champion Jimmie Johnson. The Buckeye Bullet fell back to 35th in the opening laps as the team discussed the handling of the racecar. Blaney radioed that the Chevrolet was loose in, tight in the center and was not turning well.
Still battling a tight condition in the center of the corner, Blaney went a lap down on lap 64. The TBR team worked on the handling of the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet during the first pit stop on lap 81. The Chevrolet still had issues turning in the center of the corner, and the TBR team made more aggressive changes during a yellow-flag pit stop on lap 110.
During the next run, Blaney radioed that the car was much better as he moved forward through the field, looking to get his lap back. The Golden Corral Chevrolet began to fall off by lap 159, and Blaney tried different lines and driving styles to make the car handle better. Almost falling two laps down by lap 167, he radioed that when he drove harder into the corner and pounded the brake the car drove better than when he tried to save the equipment. He continued to use his new driving style to work his way up to 26th and stay ahead of the leader.
The TBR team made a few more changes to the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet during a yellow-flag pit stop on lap 189. With the car handling better, Blaney focused on getting his lap back, which he accomplished on lap 302 when a melee struck out on the backstretch. The team made a few changes to the Golden Corral Chevrolet, and Blaney restarted 20th on lap 314.
Crew Chief Tommy Baldwin radioed to Blaney that they were three laps short of fuel and told his driver to run hard but keep in mind he needs to save a few laps before the finish. Blaney ran some of the fastest lap times on the track and drove his way up to 18th by lap 356. By lap 383, he fell a lap down to leader Kyle Busch while in the 15th position.
With 15 laps to go, Baldwin radioed to his driver and told him to save fuel but still try to get some spots. Blaney raced the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet up to the 13th position with nine laps to go. With Mark Martin, the next car behind him, also saving fuel, Blaney backed off a bit to ensure he finished the race. When the checkers dropped after 400 laps, the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet finished 13th, one lap down.
The 13th-place finish tied TBR’s best team finish and propelled the team into the top-35 in NSCS Owner Points for the first time in team history. The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet is now 34th in owner points, four points ahead of 36th and one point behind 33rd. Blaney moved up a position in NSCS Driver Points and is now 33rd.
“It was really interesting that the harder I was on the equipment the better the car handled,” explained Blaney. “We were really fast the second half of the race and worked our way through the field. It was really fun out there. This team has worked really hard. I am just proud we got into the top-35 and thankful that Golden Corral came on board with us for 19 races. Their support will help us try to run like this every week.”
Blaney and the TBR team will head to Darlington Raceway next week, with the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet locked into the Showtime Southern 500.