Loudon: Dave Blaney preview

Both Dave Blaney and the ...

Both Dave Blaney and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team finished the 2001 season on a high note in the delayed season-finale at New Hampshire International Speedway, finishing 11th and seventh, respectively, in the New England 300 on a chilly Thanksgiving Friday. The team approaches this weekend's race at NHIS with a new short-track car--one of the first built completely from the ground-up at Jasper Motorsports--as well as gathering momentum as the acclimation process between new driver and new team passes the mid-season mark.

--.DAVE BLANEY on his success in the 2001 season-finale at NHIS--.

"We had a great day on our final day together with the Amoco program at Bill Davis Racing, and ran at the front a good part of the race until getting bumped out of the lead-group in the last 10 miles. (Crew Chief) Ryan (Pemberton) and I have looked at what we were doing with the #93 and what he did with his car (#77) to finish seventh and have applied that to what we're doing for this weekend. The big wildcard in all that is that the weather was unlike any we'll probably ever see again for either of the New Hampshire races--bone-cold and windy, with a completely different tire-compound than we'll use at this or the fall race."

--.BLANEY on the new Jasper-built Ford making its debut this weekend--.

"The last three cars we've run (at Sears Point, Daytona, Chicago) have been cars we've put together top-to-bottom for the most part in our shop, but this car is completely our effort, from the chassis up, with a lot of the things that we've worked toward that better fit my driving style than some of the cars that carried over from last season. It took Ryan and (co-owner) Mark Harrah and I a while to understand that we needed to change some things about how their cars were put together before I came to the team and where we wanted to go from this point forward. We really started to make progress with all that about the end of April--when we led a good number of laps at California--and we've been real competitive just about everywhere since--from the road courses to the superspeedways and everywhere in between. That's encouraging."

--.BLANEY on last week's early disappointment, and late surge at Chicago--.

"We had our best qualifying effort of the season so far, and high hopes for the race after running well pretty much everywhere over the past 6-8 weeks and finishing as well as both myself and the Jasper team did in 2001. We had a problem getting the car fired on pit road, had to go to the back of the field right off the bat, and were playing catch-up all day. We were just a little off with the car in the first half and got a lap-down right after our second green-flag stop, but were really fast--maybe as fast as anyone but the #12 (Ryan Newman) and the #8 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) late, but we weren't about to get our lap back with those guys out front. We still finished 17th, but we've really had top-ten cars each of the last three weeks and don't have much to show for it. That's disappointing."

* DAVE BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team enter the New Hampshire 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway ranked 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings, eight points behind 18th-place Kyle Petty and 64 points behind two-time Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte in 17th; in his 2001 starts at NHIS, Blaney started 34th (29.453 secs.) and 25th (points), respectively, and finished 37th (accident, running at finish) and 11th, the latter in the 2001 season-finale in which Blaney ran at the front throughout the race's second half and challenged for his first career NASCAR win until being shuffled out of the top-ten after the final restart with 12 laps remaining: in 2001 at NHIS, the #77 Jasper Ford started seventh (29.076 secs.) and 21st (points) and finished 19th and seventh, respectively.

* As the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season reaches its mid-point after Daytona, the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team in 2002 ranks three positions higher in the Winston Cup point standings (19th-22nd) than at this point in 2001, has better average start (25.22-27.99) and average finish (19.89-21.78) ratios; BLANEY ranks fourth in miles completed behind Penske-Jasper Engines teammate Rusty Wallace (sixth in points), defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon (fourth in points) and Rookie-of-the-Year leader Jimmie Johnson (third in points); BLANEY ranked 26th in the 2001 Winston Cup standings entering the mid-summer race at New Hampshire with his former team, (#93-Bill Davis Racing).

* Since his ninth-place finish at California in late April, BLANEY has posted three top-15 finishes, led four races, and run at the front of several other events, including Sears Point and Daytona--where Blaney ran in the top-ten for more than two-thirds of each race before late trouble--and last weekend at Chicago, where he finished 17th despite being forced to the rear of the field (after qualifying seventh) when the #77 Jasper Ford initially failed to start; over the race's final third, Blaney--caught a lap-down after a mid-race green-flag pit stop--matched lap-times with race-winner Kevin Harvick and other leaders.

* Rusty Wallace leads the three Penske-Jasper Engines entries in the top-20 in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings with one top-five and ten top-ten finishes and 2,312 points (sixth), 171 points behind leader Sterling Marlin; Ryan Newman (2.033 points) ranks 12th and has six top-five and nine top-ten finishes; BLANEY ranks 19th (1,863 points), 170 points behind Newman.

* Bill "Stump" Lewis--driver of the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions transporter for DAVE BLANEY--blitzed a field of his peers and took the lead in the International Truck Challenge with one event remaining in the 2002 competition; Lewis won the $1,000 first-place check and a sparkling cut-glass trophy in the third-round of the NASCAR-based competition, held last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway; Lewis--whose #77 Jasper team enjoys a partnership with Sternberg International of Jasper and Evansville, IN--beat two dozen other competitors--all NASCAR Winston Cup transporter drivers including last year's champion Barry Sheppherd (#21)--to take a 10-point margin into the final round of competition in three months (10/26) at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

-jm-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Kyle Petty , Kevin Harvick , Sterling Marlin , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Dave Blaney
Teams Bill Davis Racing