AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 11, 2007) -- Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team traveled to Phoenix International Raceway with the goal of staying out of trouble and finishing the race ahead of the teams with which they were doing battle for a ...
AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 11, 2007) -- Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team traveled to Phoenix International Raceway with the goal of staying out of trouble and finishing the race ahead of the teams with which they were doing battle for a coveted spot in the top 35 in the owners' points standings. The team was able to do just that and finished the Checker Auto Parts 500 in 31st place.
After posting the third-fastest time in the practice session leading up to qualifying, Blaney was the 44th of 49 competitors to take to the track for his qualifying run Friday afternoon. His speed of 131.560 mph around the one-mile oval earned the team the 17th spot on the starting lineup for Sunday's event. Blaney was set to join his BDR teammates Johnny Benson and Jacques Villeneuve in the field for Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500, as all three Bill Davis Racing entries qualified solidly for the race.
The green flag waved for the start of the 312-lap event Sunday, and Blaney reported to crew chief Tommy Baldwin early in the event that the handling of the No. 22 Toyota was very loose. Blaney fell to 21st before the first yellow flag of the day waved on lap 26. The caution allowed the team to make air pressure and track bar adjustments, change all four tires and fill the tank with fuel during a lap 27 pit stop.
Despite the adjustments made to the handling, Blaney still had his hands full with a loose racecar throughout much of the event. Baldwin called for additional changes following a caution flag on lap 87, and Blaney let the team know that the car was better than it had been in the beginning of the race. Blaney remained in the top 25 for the better part of the first half of the event, but went one lap down to leader and eventual winner Jimmie Johnson on lap 204. Blaney lost another lap when he lost control of his Caterpillar Camry in turns one and two on lap 234. Luckily, there was very little damage to the car and after a quick pit stop for four fresh tires several laps later, Blaney returned to the track no worse for the wear.
Being stuck two laps down, it was tough for the Bill Davis Racing team to make up any ground in the closing laps of the Checker Auto Parts 500. Blaney took the checkered flag in 31st place. The No. 22 entry gained nine points on the No. 21 in the owners' points battle and now holds a 136 point lead over 36th place. Blaney also stands only 29 markers behind Kyle Petty in 34th.