By Tommy Baldwin Racing
Early Incident Spoils Hopes of a Top-10 Finish for the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet; Blaney finished 39th at Daytona
High-hopes ended in disappointment for the No. 36 Golden Corral team. Dave Blaney looked to repeat this season’s superspeedway success this weekend in the event at Daytona International Speedway. Blaney started the 400-mile race from the 40th spot. As he did in both superspeedway races earlier this season, Blaney hung back for the beginning of the race. An incident on lap 47 relegated the team to a 39th-place finish. The Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 36 Chevrolet fell to 33rd in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) owner points.
Blaney took to the track Thursday for a rain-shortened 45-minute practice session. He posted the 44th-fastest time of 50.139 seconds in the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet. On Friday, Blaney posted the 40th-quickest qualifying lap of 50.387 seconds.
Blaney took the green flag on Saturday from the 40th spot and planned to hang back at the beginning of the 400-mile race. The Hartford, Ohio native quickly found TBR teammate Geoffrey Bodine, and the pair raced in a two-car draft by lap four. The first yellow flag waved on lap six for a three-car incident in turn one. Trying to avoid contact, Blaney flat-spotted his tires. TBR owner Tommy Baldwin called for the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet to come down pit road for a four-tire pit stop.
The field restarted on lap eight with Blaney in the 29th spot. Without a drafting partner, he fell back to the 35th position to team up with Bodine. An incident on lap 24 caused the second caution of the night, and the Golden Corral pit crew made a two-tire pit stop. Blaney restarted 25th on lap 27 with Bodine restarting in the 24th spot. The pair got back together following the restart. By lap 32, the twosome swapped positions giving Blaney the 35th spot.
By lap 40, Blaney radioed that the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet was shaking really bad like a wheel was loose. He continued that he might have issues with oil pressure. Four laps later, the TBR team decided to swap positions once again to let the No. 35 Luke & Associates Chevrolet cool down. Crew Chief Philippe Lopez, making his debut with the team, radioed that the pair was 2.5 seconds slower with Bodine in front, so on lap 46, the twosome swapped again.
Still learning the nuances of the two-car draft, Bodine drove high into the corner and caught the right rear quarter panel of the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet on lap 47. Blaney spun in the corner and hit the outside wall. The Golden Corral Chevrolet came to rest on the apron of turn one and could not restart.
Blaney finished 39th in the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet. The team is now 33rd in NSCS owner points, 45 points ahead of 36th and two points behind 32nd. Blaney is 31st in NSCS driver points, 66 points behind David Gilliland in 30th.
“It was an unfortunate night for the Golden Corral team,” explained Blaney. “We were really looking forward to coming back here to Daytona and trying to get a top-10 finish so kids could eat free on Monday. We started having problems with the engine just before the spin. Unfortunately, situations like this are just a product of this type of racing.”
Blaney will return to racing next Saturday for the NSCS debut at Kentucky Speedway. He will pilot the No. 36 Big Red Chevrolet in the 400-mile event.