Blaney Scores 32nd-place Finish at the Monster Mile
DOVER, DEL. (October 3, 2011) – Dave Blaney piloted the Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet from the 41st-place starting spot to a 32nd-place finish in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway this weekend. The finish kept the team in the 33rd spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Owner Points.
Blaney drove the 39th- and 27th-fastest laps in practice before posting the 41st-fastest time in qualifying on Saturday.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet took the green flag from the 21st row for 400 miles at the Monster Mile. Blaney drove up to the 36th position before the first caution on lap six for an accident in turn three. Blaney informed the crew that the car was pretty loose to start. Crew Chief Philippe Lopez called for Blaney to stay out as a competition caution was planned for lap 40. The field went back to green-flag racing on lap nine with Blaney still in 36th. He drove into the 33rd position and radioed that the car was getting really tight.
Rain brought out the second caution on lap 20. Blaney talked with the crew about the tight condition, as Lopez assured him he was faster than the next 10 cars in front of him. The TBR team stayed out once again, and the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet restarted 26th on lap 23. Blaney came on the radio by lap 27 and explained that the car was loose in and incredibly tight in the center. By the competition caution on lap 42, he fell to the 34th position. Lopez called for a four-tire pit stop and chassis adjustments.
The Golden Corral Chevrolet restarted 32nd on lap 46. The No. 36 fell a lap down by lap 85, and Blaney radioed that the throttle push was now worse than the tight center condition. Continuing to try different driving lines, Blaney found speed on the track by lap 100 toward the end of the run. On lap 106, Lopez called Blaney down pit road for the team’s first green-flag pit stop of the day. They changed four tires and made a wedge adjustment.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet returned to the track and when green-flag pit stops were completed, raced in the 32nd position, one lap down. The Hartford, Ohio native radioed that the condition was the same and the whole car bounced and chattered in the corner. A caution on lap 138 for an accident in turn one allowed the team to make another four-tire pit stop and chassis adjustment. The changes made the car loose at the beginning of the run, and the Golden Corral Chevrolet quickly feel another lap down. Throughout the run, the forward drive got better, and the car was just a little free into the turn according to Blaney.
Debris in turn three brought out the caution on lap 176, and the team elected to stay out for the wave around, as the car seemed to be improving. One lap after the restart, an accident in turn two brought out another caution. Lopez called Blaney down pit road for a four-tire pit stop and small air pressure adjustment to help the beginning of the run. Blaney restarted on lap 185 from the 31st position, one lap down. Blaney quickly radioed that the car had no bite and chattered in the corner again. He fell two laps down by lap 217, still in the 31st position.
Green-flag pit stops began at lap 246, and the TBR team pit on lap 248. The Golden Corral crew changed four tires and made another chassis adjustment. When the seventh caution was called on lap 257 for weather, the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet was in the 32nd position, three laps down. The team made a fuel-only pit stop during this yellow flag and restarted 33rd on lap 264. Twenty laps into the run, Blaney commented that the car still had no side bite, creating a tight condition.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet made another green-flag stop on lap 300 and fell to the 34th position, six laps down. The team stayed out during the lap 301 caution for an accident in turn four to get a lap back and finish the fuel run. Blaney restarted 32nd, five laps down. The final caution on lap 363 allowed the team to make their final pit stop. The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet restarted 33rd, five laps down. Blaney drove up to the 32nd position by the checkered flag of the AAA 400.
The Golden Corral team held onto the 33rd position in the NSCS Owner Points with the 32nd-place finish. The team is now six points out of 32nd and 10 points ahead of 34th. The No. 36 is locked into the top-35 by 60 points. Blaney also held onto the 32nd position in NSCS Driver Points. He is 32 points behind Casey Mears and 11 points ahead of Andy Lally.
“It was a frustrating day,” Blaney explained. “We worked on the handling but only really improved on the one long run in the middle of the race. We tried everything, but it didn’t seem to help. We will just keep gathering information from each event and get better.”
Blaney will return to the No. 36 Big Red Chevrolet for the team’s second visit to Kansas Speedway this weekend.