FONTANA, Calif. (Sept. 2, 2007) -- Though they were fast in the practice session leading up to qualifying, Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar team were disappointed with their 30th-place qualifying effort Friday afternoon. Knowing race night would...
FONTANA, Calif. (Sept. 2, 2007) -- Though they were fast in the practice session leading up to qualifying, Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar team were disappointed with their 30th-place qualifying effort Friday afternoon. Knowing race night would be a long one, Blaney and the team bided their time early on with a car they knew was easily capable of a top-15 finish. Unfortunately, motor problems on lap 202 sidelined the team early, and the Caterpillar Racing team was credited with a 38th-place finish.
Blaney was the 17th of 46 competitors to take to the track for qualifying Friday afternoon. The Caterpillar Racing team was automatically locked into the field this week by virtue of its position within the top 35 in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series owners' points standings. Blaney's speed of 178.904 mph around the two-mile track earned the team the 30th spot on the starting grid for Sunday evening's event. Disappointed in its qualifying run, the team was looking forward to making quick work of slower traffic on raceday. Good results in Saturday's practice sessions boosted the team's enthusiasm for Sunday's event.
With temperatures hovering around the 100-degree mark at the start of Sunday evening's event, Blaney took the green flag for the start of the race and put the heat on his competitors, moving into the 23rd spot by lap 17. Several laps later, Blaney communicated to crew chief Tommy Baldwin that the handling of the Cat car was a bit tight, and Baldwin called for a slight air pressure adjustment during a pit stop under caution on lap 25.
Blaney did a good job of communicating how the car was handling during the early stages of the race, and Baldwin called for only small air pressure changes during pit stops throughout the first 100 laps of the 250-lap race. The No. 22 Camry broke into the top 15 on lap 78 and continued to move forward, running as high as 11th near the lap-150 mark.
The handling of Blaney's Cat Camry began to loosen as the evening progressed. Blaney lost a few positions after a restart on lap 169, but the car's handling began to tighten, enabling Blaney to work his way toward the front. Blaney's Bill Davis Racing entry was running 17th on lap 202 when the veteran driver suddenly reported to his crew that there was a problem with the motor. Blaney drove straight to the garage area to allow the crew to assess the situation. The crew determined that the car was finished for the day, and the team was credited with a 38th-place finish.
The Caterpillar Racing team will return to Richmond (Va.) International Raceway next weekend for the Chevy Monte Carlo 400. Qualifying will be held Friday evening, and Saturday afternoon's race is scheduled for a 7:40 p.m. ET start. The event will be broadcast on ABC television, MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.