CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 13, 2007) --Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team knew they would have their work cut out for them if they wanted to duplicate their top-10 finish from a week ago. After starting from 34th place, Blaney and the team had...
CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 13, 2007) --Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team knew they would have their work cut out for them if they wanted to duplicate their top-10 finish from a week ago. After starting from 34th place, Blaney and the team had no place to go but forward, and once again, that's exactly what they did. Blaney and the Cat team finished Saturday night's event at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the sixth position.
Contact with the wall in the closing laps of the practice session Thursday resulted in the need for minor repair work to the right-rear quarter panel of the Cat machine. The crew had the car ready for Blaney to be the 23rd of 49 competitors to take to the track for qualifying Thursday evening. His speed of 185.452 mph was slower than the team had hoped but enough to earn them the 34th spot on the starting lineup.
The Cat Toyota Camry sported a new paint scheme touting CatUsed.com. Blaney took the green flag Saturday evening and communicated to crew chief Tommy Baldwin in the early stages of the event that the handling of his Toyota Camry was a little loose. Baldwin worked on the handling of the car during an early pit stop. Several laps after Blaney returned to the track, he let Baldwin know that the car had become tight getting to the center of the corners.
Blaney had worked his way just outside the top 25 when a yellow flag waved on lap 68 of the 334-lap event. Knowing the importance of every single championship point, Baldwin left Blaney out on the track for an extra lap before calling him into the pits for four fresh tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. Blaney led lap 69 and was awarded the five bonus points for doing so.
Blaney continued to move his CatUsed.com Toyota toward the front of the field throughout the night, despite once again encountering a loose handling condition. An abundance of cautions gave Baldwin ample chances to work on the car, and Blaney hovered just inside the top 20 for the first half of the race. A two-tire pit stop on lap 178 gained the team some track position, and when the green flag waved for the restart, Blaney's Toyota was sitting in the top 15.
It wasn't long after that stop that Blaney reported to his crew that the car was the best it had been all night. Blaney took advantage of that fact and began to move through slower traffic on his way to the front of the pack. The No. 22 machine stood inside the top 10 at the 200-lap mark. But as the night wore on, the car again became tight, and Blaney slipped several positions. Blaney came out of the pits ninth after a lap 281 stop for fuel only and never looked back.
After the No. 66 car experienced motor problems and oiled down the track, NASCAR officials briefly displayed the red flag on lap 325, and the No. 22 Bill Davis Racing entry still held ninth place. Blaney's experience came through when it counted, and he sailed past several cars just after the lap 330 restart. The final caution flag of the night waved on lap 333, sparking a green/white/checkered finish. Blaney held the sixth place when the checkered flag finally waved.
The team's second consecutive top-10 finish helped pad its lead over the No. 21 car in the fight for the top 35 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series owners' points standings, and it moved the team ahead of Kyle Petty's No. 45 ride by 39 points. Now that it sits in 34th, the Caterpillar team sets it sights on 33rd place driver Johnny Sauter, who holds a 61-point lead for that position.
The NEXTEL Cup Series sticks close to home again this week for the Subway 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Qualifying for the event will be held Friday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon's race is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. ET start. The race will be broadcast on ABC television, MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. The Cat team will participate in a Goodyear tire test at Lowe's Motor Speedway Monday and Tuesday before heading to Martinsville.