Charlotte Motor Speedway
Blaney Battles Engine Woes to Finish 27th at Charlotte
The No. 36 Disabled American Veterans/Golden Corral Chevrolet Gained in the Point Standings
CONCORD, N.C. (May 30, 2011) – Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) driver Dave Blaney started from the 42nd spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Coca-Cola 600. He battled engine problems from early in the race and drove the No. 36 Disabled American Veterans/Golden Corral Chevrolet to a 27th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The TBR team struggled with the handing of the No. 36 in practice on Thursday and qualified 42nd for the Coca-Cola 600. The team got to work during two practice sessions on Saturday and improved the handling of the No. 36 Disabled American Veterans/Golden Corral Chevrolet for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.
Blaney took the green flag from the 42nd position and quickly worked up to the 36th spot by lap 11. He radioed to the TBR crew that the Disabled American Veterans/Golden Corral Chevrolet was really tight and bouncing like a basketball in the turns. He fell a lap down on lap 36. The TBR team made its first pit stop of the day on lap 43 under green flag conditions and changed four tires and added fuel to the No. 36 Chevrolet.
On lap 46, Blaney radioed that there was a problem with the engine. He switched ignition boxes to try to solve the issue, but the problem continued. When the field went back to green, Blaney drove in the 37th position and fell a second lap down by lap 60. He radioed that the Chevrolet was now really loose in the corner.
A yellow flag on lap 76 allowed the TBR team to assess the engine problem. Blaney pulled down pit road, and the crew looked under the hood to see if they could see any issues. Blaney then drove the No. 36 Disabled American Veterans/Golden Corral Chevrolet down pit road again for four tires and fuel. Still unsure of the problem, Blaney restarted in 37th position, two laps down on lap 79. A caution 24 laps later allowed the team to once again check the engine issue.
By lap 130, Blaney radioed that the engine issue seemed to get worse, and the No. 36 Chevrolet was tightening up. The team made another green-flag pit stop on lap 149 for four tires and fuel. By lap 163, Blaney told the crew that the engine was starting to slip pretty badly. During a lap 172 caution, the team tried to change a plug in the engine to see if it was cracked and causing the problem. After inspecting the plug, the team concluded that it was not the issue and restarted 37th, four laps down.
The fourth caution on lap 182 gave the TBR team the opportunity to change a plug wire to once again try to solve the engine issue. The change did not fix the engine problem, and Blaney restarted 36th, four laps down. Still in the 36th position on lap 202, the Hartford, Ohio native radioed that the car was originally vibrating when he got into the gas but now it was banging and missing.
Knowing there was not much they could do to fix the engine problem, the TBR crew continued to work on the handling of the No. 36 Disabled American Veterans/Golden Corral Chevrolet during the next two yellow-flag pit stops. As the sun set, the Chevrolet handled better, but the engine woes continued. By lap 284, Blaney radioed that the Disabled American Veterans/Golden Corral Chevrolet was handling the best it had handled all day.
Crew chief Tommy Baldwin utilized the next two cautions to top off the fuel tank during the last yellow-flag lap of the caution period. By lap 308, the Golden Corral team made a yellow-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel, and Blaney restarted 28th, four laps down. During a lap 344 caution, Baldwin called for Blaney to stay out and get a lap back, putting him three laps down in 27th place.
Blaney ran the last 50 laps of the 400-lap event in the top-30. The field competed in a green-white-checker finish, and the engine held on for 402 laps. The No. 36 Disabled American Veterans/Golden Corral Chevrolet finished 27th, six laps down.
The No. 36 Chevrolet held onto the 32nd position in the NSCS Owner Points. The top-30 finish moved the Golden Corral team within two points of Phoenix Racing in 31st place. Blaney also held onto the 31st spot in the NSCS Driver Point Standings.
“Considering we were running without a cylinder, we finished really well,” explained Blaney. “It’s unfortunate that we had problems so early because we couldn’t learn too much from today. The car got faster at night, but that’s because the track got quicker. Fortunately, some of the guys around us had issues tonight, so we gained a little in the point standings. We’ll go out next week and continue to build on our intermediate track program.”