FARGO, ND - What a difference a couple of years can make. Two years ago Dale Blaney and the Amoco Team made their first visit to Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, ND but not many things will be the same when Blaney takes to the half-mile dirt...
FARGO, ND - What a difference a couple of years can make. Two years ago Dale Blaney and the Amoco Team made their first visit to Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, ND but not many things will be the same when Blaney takes to the half-mile dirt oval on Thursday for the three-night Duel in the Dakotas program.
"Things will certainly be a lot different this time around," said Blaney. "The sponsor and the car number are the same, but just about everything else is different. I've changed quite a bit. We've got a new crew, and the car is a lot different. The bottom line is we've come out here to prove that we're a top-five team and for the most part we've done that."
Blaney currently ranks sixth in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws standings and has consistently been a contender in sprint car racing's toughest circuit. After beginning the season with a new crew (DJ Lindsey and Gene Jenkins), a new car (Maxim Chassis) and motor program (Mopar), the Amoco #93 team is beginning to have the success that everyone had hoped for.
"We knew it would take some time to get where we wanted to be," said Blaney, the 1998 WoO Rookie-of-the-Year. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, and after having some success we're starting to have some fun out here. DJ and Gene are doing an excellent job of getting the car comfortable for me, and that makes a big difference."
The team has been solid on big, fast tracks this season. Top-five finishes at Eldora, Bristol and most recently at Knoxville have provided confidence for the new #93 team. Blaney posted a fifth at the Fargo track in the second preliminary in 1998, and he's confident that everyone will be ready for this weekend's event.
"The big tracks have been good to us so far this year," said Blaney, who has one victory, 10 top-five's and 19 top-ten's this season in 31 starts. "These Mopar Engines have a lot to do with that, because they run so well. We had a chance to win both features last week at Knoxville, but circumstances didn't go our way. The good thing about last weekend is that we were fast right out of the box, and I'm hoping we have the same kind of luck here. I remember the track being dry one night and wet on the final night so we're going to be prepared for anything."
On Wednesday, the National Sprint Car Poll announced their summer rankings and Blaney was rated seventh behind Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, Mark Kinser, Stevie Smith, Danny Lasoski and Fred Rahmer. In the spring poll, Blaney was 21st and obviously, his recent success has been noticed.
"I'm happy to be recognized as one of the top drivers," noted Blaney, " but we want to be in the Top-five when the next poll comes out in the fall. I haven't been in the top-five since 1995 or 1996, and if we make it back there most likely we'll have had success at the King's Royal and Amoco Knoxville Nationals. Those are very important races for us so we'll go out and do our best."
This weekend's finale in Fargo will be aired live on TNN, Saturday at 10:00 PM (ET). The grueling Outlaw schedule will continue next week with a Monday night race in the Twin Cities area at Cedar Lake Speedway before moving to Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH for three nights of racing that will conclude with the 17th Annual King's Royal.