Watkins Glen: Blaney, Said preview

* DAVE BLANEY and the ...

* DAVE BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team enter the Sirius At The Glen ranked 20th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings, only 12 points behind 19th-place Jeff Green, 49 points behind 18th-place Bobby Labonte and 132 points behind 17th-place Dale Earnhardt, Jr.; in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis last weekend, BLANEY started 33rd and finished 15th, passing a remarkable 51 cars including 16 cars in the final 27 laps after a flat-tire put him at the back of the lead-lap pack

* In the first road-course race of the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup season at Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway, BLANEY started 21st and finished 20th, racing in the top-ten through most of the race until being spun around in Turn 11 with only 20 laps remaining.

* BLANEY has only six career road-course starts in any discipline (5-WC, 1-BG), after moving to NASCAR prior to the 1998 season following a stellar sprint-car career; in 2001 at Watkins Glen, BLANEY started 35th (73.708 secs.) and finished 28th; in his only other Winston Cup start at Watkins Glen (2000), BLANEY started 33rd (on points) and finished 35th. In the first road-course event of his racing career, BLANEY started eighth (86.072 secs.) and finished eighth in the 1999 NASCAR Busch Series race at Watkins Glen.

* Rusty Wallace leads the three Penske-Jasper Engines entries in the 2002 Winston Cup standings in fifth-place (2,695 points--3 top-fives, 12 top-tens), 171 points behind leader Sterling Marlin; Ryan Newman (2,508 points) ranks 12th (9 top-fives, 12 top-tens); BLANEY ranks 20th (2,141 points).

DAVE BLANEY on his first trip (1999) to Watkins Glen as a NASCAR driver:

"With the possible exception of maneuvers taken to avoid pot-holes while racing at some of the less-desirable dirt tracks I used to race on, I had never run on a track layout that even came close to preparing me for the road-racing necessary in NASCAR. In 1998, we ran an abbreviated Busch Series schedule (20 races) at Bill Davis Racing which did not include the series' only road course event--Watkins Glen.

"When we got to The Glen for the Busch race in 1999, the first time I saw the track was the first day of practice when I drove off pit road for our first practice session. I think because our crew chief at the time--Gil Martin--knew the closest thing to road-course racing I had done was probably back home on the backroads near my home in Ohio, the atmosphere around our team was pretty loose. It was a good thing.

"At least four times during those first practice sessions prior to qualifying, I was off-course. Three of those times, I misjudged the corner at the end of the Glen's long front-stretch that ends up giving a driver two options--a hard downhill right turn on the track or a long slide straight into the sand pit. Three times, I went to the garage to blow the sand from under the car and send me back out.

*NOTE: He didn't see it but when Blaney took the green flag for his first qualifying lap later that day, the corner workers and NASCAR officials stationed adjacent to the Turn 1 sand pit all applauded as he made it through the corner and on to the esses. Some were wearing hard-hats in his honor, but he didn't mind hearing the story later. He had qualified eighth.

"A strange thing also happened that weekend at Watkins Glen. Probably because I had really looked forward to going to the Glen and because we had all kept an open mind about my severe lack of experience, we all we having a great time in spite of my off-road adventures. And my times steadily dropped throughout the day. Three thousand miles away where the Winston Cup teams were practicing at Sears Point, Bill Davis must have thought he was seeing typos on our BGN practice sheet.

"I remember talking to Jack Baldwin--a great road racer from the Trans-Am Series--before the race. He said that so many of the stock car guys beat themselves on road courses before the green flag ever falls---by taking such a negative attitude with them into the race. Our group at BDR had done the opposite and I can say it really helped me as much as the track time. And it's still working that way. We ran great at Sears Point earlier this year--despite the way it ended--and I'm having a great time on the road courses "

BORIS SAID on his first WC start of 2002 and his chances at Watkins Glen:

"We qualified up front at Sears Point and were going pretty good through the first third of the race, but I called for some changes that really sent the car the other direction, and we started backing up. Still, it was a good overall weekend for the Jasper teams, because Dave ran well and should have gotten a top-ten out of it.

" I think you'll see the same sort of thing this weekend out of the Jasper cars that you did at Sears Point. Dave's been a fast learner on the road courses for a guy who never ran them before a few years ago. He enjoys it and is open about having fun , and that's a big part of going fast on a road course. I've run really good and won in almost every kind of car I've had at The Glen, but I've had really bad luck with things breaking in the NASCAR races I've run there. Maybe this weekend will be different."

* BORIS SAID will compete in his second NASCAR Winston Cup Series race of 2002 in the #67 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford this weekend at Watkins Glen; in 2001, Said drove the #77 Jasper Ford in both Winston Cup road races, finishing 11th at Sears Point and eighth at Watkins Glen; SAID started 42nd at Sears Point after an slipping off-course during his qualifying run, but improved more positions in the race than any other driver enroute to his 11th-place finish; at Watkins Glen, SAID started 20th (72.994 secs.), but finished eighth on the lead-lap behind race-winner Jeff Gordon and six other WC regulars.

* In his first start for the Jasper Motorsports team at Sears Point in June, SAID started 10th but finished 41st, running in the top-ten through the first half of the race until contact with John Andretti sent him off-course, damaging the #67 Jasper Ford too severely to continue competitively.

* SAID won the 1998 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Sears Point, starting from the outside pole after finishing 20th from his third-place start in the CTS race at Sears Point in 1997; SAID's other road-course starts in CTS were at Watkins Glen in 1997 (ST-32nd; FN-11th) and 1998 (ST-3rd; FN-3rd).

* SAID, the current Trans-Am points leader with three wins (Mosport, Lime Rock, Cleveland) in six starts in 2002 in a Panoz Esperante, will make his seventh career NASCAR Winston Cup start at Watkins Glen this weekend; in 1998 at Watkins Glen, SAID qualified the #23 Ford (for Jimmy Spencer) fifth and finished 20th in his inaugural WC race; in 1999 at The Glen, SAID qualified the #14 Federated Auto Parts entry on the outside pole beside pole-winner Rusty Wallace, but finished 42nd after dropping out with engine failure on Lap 48; In his first WC start at Sears Point (2000), SAID started 23rd but finished 42nd with engine failure on Lap 26; engine failure also doomed SAID's first Busch Series start in 1998 at Watkins Glen, where he started on the pole but finished 40th after dropping out on Lap 26.

* The 39-year old SAID, who is Director of Motorsports for No Fear, started his racing career in motorcross in 1975 and was the SCCA Corvette Challenge Rookie-of-the-Year in 1988. He progressed through the SCCA and Trans-Am ranks in the 1990's to become one of America's premier road racers; he finished first in GT1 and third in GTS in the 1997 Rolex 24-Hour race at Daytona and is the twice-defending champion of the GT class in the American Le Mans Series with the BMW Motorsports Team; SAID also raced in two 24-hour events at Le Mans, winning the GT2 pole in 1994 and finishing second in 1995.

**NOTE: MARK HARRAH, one of the Jasper Motorsports owners, will again serve as crew chief for the #67 Jasper Motorsports Ford for Boris Said this weekend at Watkins Glen. HARRAH is one-for-two as a crew chief already in 2002, winning the ARCA Series race with Jeff Fultz, a full-time Jasper team member, at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC in May and heading up SAID's Jasper Motorsports' effort earlier this summer at Sears Point.

HARRAH also served as crew chief for the #77 Jasper team for the final 14 races of the 1999 season for then-driver Robert Pressley, prior to the arrival of Ryan Pemberton for the start of the 2000 Winston Cup season. As crew chief, HARRAH had a best-start of 12th (Bristol) and a best-finish of 24th (Charlotte)

*SEARS POINT--.REWIND (Jasper Motorsports #77 & #67)

The Jasper Motorsports duo of Dave Blaney and Boris Said produced the best overall NASCAR Winston Cup road-course weekend that the team has ever enjoyed although late-race mishaps with each denied both deserved shots at top-ten finishes in the Dodge/Save-Mart 350 at Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway.

Said, who finished 11th and eighth in last year's two Winston Cup road races in the #77 Jasper Ford, finished 41st after running in the top-ten through much of the race's first two-thirds while Blaney finished 20th after running in the top-ten until being spun out with 20 laps remaining.

Blaney's finish, while not representative of his outstanding drive in only his sixth-ever road course start, was the team's second-best finish ever (next to Said's 11th at SP in 2001) at Sears Point.

After qualifying tenth (Said) and 21st (Blaney) for the first road-course race of the 2002 season, both Jasper Engines & Transmissions drivers showed front-running form in the two Saturday practice sessions, Blaney posting seventh- and 11th-place times, respectively, in second practice and Happy Hour, and Said ranking 19th and fourth among the 43 qualifiers for the season's 16th race.

At the start of the 110-lap event, the Jasper Motorsports pair established themselves at the front of the field and would remain in the top-ten--Said in the top-five and Blaney in the second-five through the race's middle stages. But Said spun off-course at the race's two-thirds mark after an aggressive exchange with John Andretti and was sidelined by the subsequent damage with 38 laps remaining.

Blaney's misfortunes came after the final round of pit stops, during which all the lead-pack with the exception of Bill Elliott, pitted while nine mid-pack racers remained on the track and moved to the front of the field. With fastest cars now mired mid-pack, Blaney was spun around in a tight group by Ryan Newman in Turn 11, damaging the #77 Jasper Ford and dropping him deep in the field among the lead-lap cars. He passed ten cars in the final 19 laps to rally for his 20th-place finish.

-jm-

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