GREENWOOD, NE - The Pennzoil World of Outlaws race almost a hundred nights in a season, and if a team wants to be successful, they have to be consistent. For most of the 2000 season, Dale Blaney and the Amoco ...
GREENWOOD, NE - The Pennzoil World of Outlaws race almost a hundred nights in a season, and if a team wants to be successful, they have to be consistent. For most of the 2000 season, Dale Blaney and the Amoco #93 Team were consistent top five competitors, but the recent six-week West Coast Swing took its toll on the Ohio-based team, and they're happy to be returning to familiar soil this weekend in Nebraska.
"We're definitely looking forward to being out of California," said Blaney, who will compete in this weekend's Circuit City Shootout at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, NE. "I wouldn't say the West Coast Swing was bad, but we just didn't have very good luck out there. Hopefully, we can come back to the Midwest and get a few top five runs in and go from there."
The 2000 season has been a confidence builder for DB Racing and Dale Blaney. DB Racing, which is owned by NASCAR competitor and former WoO Champion Dave Blaney, assembled the components last winter to provide Dale Blaney a chance to prove he belonged with the Outlaws. D.J. Lindsey and Gene Jenkins were hired to maintain the #93 Amoco Maxim and also were out to prove they could both be successful in their first season with the Outlaws.
"We were hoping to come out here and be competitive," said DJ Lindsey, who worked with Blaney in 1994. "Sprint car racing is a tough sport, but if you can get your driver comfortable and confident in the car, then the sky is the limit. We've made some progress and now our goal is to finish the season strong so that we have some momentum heading into next year."
The new combination worked through some early season adjustments and by the time they made their first stop at I-80, they were beginning to find the right chemistry. Prior the May 5th race, the #93 had seven consecutive finishes of eighth or better including five top five finishes. Blaney qualified eighth and finished 13th in the preliminary program after having brake problems in the feature, and after the team brought out a new car for the second night, they promptly set quick time. Blaney finished seventh in the 30-lap feature and began another consistent string of top ten finishes. Just over a month later the team won their first race of the season at Farmer City Raceway.
By midseason, the team had a number of top five finishers and a five-race stretch epitomized their climb to the top. It started with the final race at Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, where Blaney started sixth and patiently worked his way up to third while his Mopar-powered sprinter smoked the entire 30-lap race. Two nights later, Blaney came to the front at Cedar Lake Speedway and led five laps late in the race only to have Mark Kinser get by for the win. After traveling from the Twin Cities in Minnesota to the team's shop in Hartford, OH, Blaney was again on the track just three days later at Eldora Speedway. A fuel problem in warm-ups kept the team from qualifying when their number was called, so they were forced to qualify last. The lap was sixth fastest among all cars, but Blaney was credited with 17th. A fast racing surface made passing difficult, but the #93 moved from fifth to third in the heat race and was coming forward in the Channellock Dash before the right rear wheel was packed with mud. The night ended with Blaney only passing two cars in the feature as he finished 14th. The following night Blaney bounced back in front of TNN's cameras by racing from 12th to second in the 30-lap race and came within a few car lengths of passing Sammy Swindell for the win.
The impressive run from 12th to second provided the team with a lot of confidence heading into the season's first "big money" race, the King's Royal. The Amoco team worked through adversity all night long while trying to get the car to run. Ignition problems plagued the team during qualifying, their heat race and the dash, but somehow the problems disappeared during the 40-lap feature. Mark Kinser was dominating the race while Blaney worked his way to second, and with ten laps to go Kinser had a flat tire, giving the #93 the lead. The last ten laps were the final test for Blaney. Could he win one of the biggest races of the year by holding off the King of the Outlaws? Steve Kinser tried every trick in the book, but Blaney was up to the task and collected the $50,000 prize.
Since that week in July a number of circumstances have cost the team more top five finishes and they are coming off a tough West Coast Swing that saw them drop from sixth to seventh in the WoO standings.
"We were crashed out of races a couple of times and that really cost us some momentum," said Jenkins. "Both at I-55 and the Amoco Knoxville Nationals, we were just biding our time and I think we would have a been a top three car at the end of those races. That takes a lot out of a team, and then things that happened in California, like at Calistoga when we're running fourth and cut down a tire or at Hanford where again we were running fourth and got run over by another car. Sometimes you just have to make your own luck and that's what our plan is the rest of the way. We feel like I-80 is a good place to start that. We've were decent here in the spring and our goal is to get back up front where we belong."
Another good sign for the Amoco Team is that they'll be running on a fast half-mile track. Blaney and his crew have been solid on those types of tracks all season and the hope is that it will continue.
"I've seemed to run I-80 pretty well in the past," said Blaney, who finished 7th and 6th at I-80 in 1998. "I've haven't won a race there yet, but we've been close to the front. The track is wide and there always seems to be a couple lanes to race on, which wasn't the case out west."
Maybe the best thing for this team is that the West Coast Swing is behind them. Next week's Williams Grove National Open and events in Charlotte, Ft. Worth and Las Vegas still remain. The team started the season with a lot to prove and would like nothing more than to end the season as strong as they were in July.
"We need to finish strong," concluded Blaney, who trails Joey Saldana by 60 points for 6th in the standings. "We fell back in the points during the West Coast swing, which is disappointing because we've been so consistent all season. We've had a really good season and don't want to finish on a down note. A good weekend here would really help us get back to where we want to be and that's victory lane."