After finishing a strong second-place finish in The Winston Open last weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway with the team's new car and black paint scheme, Dave Blaney and the ...
After finishing a strong second-place finish in The Winston Open last weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway with the team's new car and black paint scheme, Dave Blaney and the #77 Jasper Motorsports crew decided to bring the "Panther Power" car--first intended to run only during The Winston weekend--back for this weekend's Coca-Cola 600 at LMS.
Blaney will also compete in Saturday's Busch Series event in the #31 Whelen Motorsports entry, which will make it's first start as a Ford with Penske-Jasper Engines from the potent production line that generated power for Ryan Newman during his outstanding split Busch Series/ARCA Series season in 2001 prior to his WC debut last year.
At the one-third point in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series schedule, BLANEY reviews his team's performance during the first segment of the 2003 season, which has included both highs (first career pole position at Rockingham, best career WC finish-third at Darlington) and lows (disappointing late March to mid-April stretch) as his team prepares for the Coca-Cola 600 at LMS, where he enjoyed both a career-best start and finish in his first visits with the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford in 2002.
**On the 2003 season through Richmond--."There's room everywhere to improve, from the driver and his feedback to the driver and the crew chief working together to the pit stops - just every single thing. And maybe getting those things where you don't have good days and bad days - where you just have solid days every day, and it's easier to work from there. There's not a big gap here in Winston Cup from the front to the back, so every little thing counts."
**On his decision to move from Bill Davis Racing to Jasper Motorsports in 2002--."I thought it was a good move when we made it, and I still think it was a good move. We had a first season where we'd hoped for a little bit more, honestly. We're sitting inside the top 20 in points, so that's a positive. We've run well quite a few times, but we were lacking a few of the finishes that we maybe thought we should've had. Overall it's been pretty good, and I see some improvement continually, so that's the big thing."
**Goals for the remaining 2/3 of 2003 season--."I still believe a top-15 in the points and a bunch of top-ten finishes, some top-fives are realistic from this point forward. (First-year Crew Chief) Bootie Barker had such a good start that people forget he's only 31 years old a rookie here in the WC Series. He's learning and we're learning about how best to work with him. And I think we've got a shot at a win before the year's out.
"Just being consistent and consistently faster is what we need to work on. I've felt like we've had a car that's had a couple of shots at winning, but you see that a lot. You have to finish the deal out. I could see our team jumping up and winning a race. It wouldn't shock me that much. Is my team consistently running in the top-ten yet? No, but we can jump up and win a race. It wouldn't surprise me at any time if it happened."
BLANEY Busch Series Quotes:
**How Does Charlotte Compare To Other Tracks?--"In race trim, Charlotte is just like everywhere else and that it's all about handling. It's a little bit rough so you really can't get aggressive with the car with springs and shocks - so it isn't an aero race. It's all handling and all suspension. A car that will stay handling all day will be the car that stays at the front."
**Does Qualifying Matter?--."Yes qualifying matters. It gives you a better option on pit stall. On the very first run of the race, if your car is off a little bit you get a lot longer before you go down a lap. Any more that is a concern. In these Busch races, if you miss it just a little it will cost you. Plus if you start up at the front you can avoid some of the wrecks in the back of the field."
**Blaney On New Ford-Penske Jasper Engine--.."You don't want to bring a knife to a gun fight. So you bring the best equipment you can. We use the Penske-Jasper Engines and Ford in our Winston Cup effort and we feel like we are bringing our best weapons to the battle. I don't think you could do much better. There's no sense going to the track if you aren't going to win. I've had that philosophy all my life and I know (Car Owner) Ted Marsh feels the same way. We feel this is our best combination to win."
**What Benefits Do You Get From Running A Busch Car?--."Richmond was our first race this year and we ran pretty well. We haven't run enough to know how things compare. The more we do it the more we will have things to compare. Once we get a couple of weeks under our belt we will know even better. But so far we have enjoyed our deal with (sponsor) Whelen and (Car Owner) Ted (Marsh)."