New Hampshire International Speedway
Late Race Incident Relegates Blaney to 29th-place Finish at Loudon No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet jumps back to 32nd in owner points
Dave Blaney started 37th in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. He drove the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet up to the 17th position while the Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) crew worked on the handling of the racecar. An incident on lap 226 relegated Blaney to a 29th-place finish. The TBR team moved back to 32nd in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) owner points.
The Golden Corral Chevrolet was fast off the truck on Friday, and the team worked to help the balance of the Chevrolet in practice. Blaney posted the 30th-fastest time in first practice and the 37th-fastest time in qualifying with a lap of 29.080 seconds. He drove the 36th-quickest times in both practice sessions on Saturday.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet took the green flag from the 19th row and worked up to 31st by lap 19. Blaney radioed that the Chevrolet was beginning to tighten up in the laps leading up to the first caution of the day on lap 31. During the yellow-flag condition, the Golden Corral pit crew made the first of ten pit stops in the 301-mile race. Blaney drove down pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
The field restarted on lap 35 with the Golden Corral Chevrolet in the 30th position. The Chevrolet tightened up in the beginning of the run and then turned to a loose condition before the second yellow flag for an accident in turn three on lap 61. The TBR team made a two-tire pit stop and another wedge adjustment, and the No. 36 restarted 23rd on lap 65. Battling the same issue this run, Blaney fell back to 29th.
The team continued to work on the tight center, loose off condition for the next three pit stops. Crew Chief Philippe Lopez utilized stops for fuel only, two tires and four tires to gain track position while making adjustments during each caution period.
By the sixth caution on lap 72, Blaney radioed that they had lost the handle of the Golden Corral Chevrolet as he struggled with a loose condition causing the car to go sideways off the corner. The TBR team made more adjustments on the next two yellow-flag pit stops as Blaney raced in the top-30. Lopez chose to get fuel only on the lap 218 pit stop and allowed the Golden Corral Chevrolet to restart 18th.
The field raced under green conditions for five laps with Blaney in the 17th position. An accident toward the front of the pack brought out the yellow flag. While trying to maneuver through the incident, Blaney made contact with the car in front of him and obtained damage to the front right of the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet. The Hartford, Ohio native brought the TBR Chevrolet down pit road for the team to assess the damage. The crew made a two-tire pit stop and added Barebond to the damage on the front right. Starting near the rear, Lopez called Blaney back down pit road to continue to fix the damage.
Blaney radioed that the toe was out and he had to turn the steering wheel to the right to drive straight, while Lopez observed that most of the front splitter was missing. Blaney restarted 33rd on lap 230. During the next green-flag run, he radioed that the Chevrolet was really chattering in the corner as he continued to run in the 33rd position. The TBR crew made the team’s final pit stop on lap 242 during the last caution period.
Lopez elected to take fuel only and make major adjustments to counter the damage from the lap 226 incident. Blaney restarted 32nd and fell to 33rd on lap 246 as he radioed that the Chevrolet was still chattering in the corner. By lap 253, he radioed that the lap times he was posting was the best he could do with the damaged Golden Corral Chevrolet. Lopez told his driver he was running laps in 31 seconds, which was better than some cars that were not damaged.
Blaney fell one lap down with 10 laps to go. With plenty of fuel in the tank, he held on to finish 29th in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 as teams began to run out of fuel in the closing laps of the 301-mile race.
The 29th-place finish propelled the Golden Corral team back to the 32nd position in NSCS owner points, 55 points behind 31st. TBR is now 44 points ahead of 36th. Blaney also moved up in the driver point standings and back to the 31st spot. He is now 72 points behind David Gilliland in 30th and eight points ahead of Casey Mears.
“It was a rough day,” Blaney said. “There were points where the car was really good throughout a run, but it would fall off throughout the run. We were getting better as the race went on but then had a set of bad tires. We completely lost the handle of the car. Once we changed the tires, we were better. Unfortunately, we were caught up in a wreck and had severe damage to the front right. The team did a good job of trying to make the car drivable with all the damage.”
By: dave blaney