Dave Blaney Darlington II preview

Dave Blaney -- Amoco Ultimate Team 93 Dodge FACTS & FIGURES: Southern 500 (Darlington Raceway/9-2-2001) * DAVE BLANEY and Amoco Ultimate Team 93 started 28th and finished 18th last weekend at Bristol, after suffering flat tire in the...

Dave Blaney -- Amoco Ultimate Team 93 Dodge

FACTS & FIGURES: Southern 500 (Darlington Raceway/9-2-2001)

* DAVE BLANEY and Amoco Ultimate Team 93 started 28th and finished 18th last weekend at Bristol, after suffering flat tire in the final 20 miles; he posted a career-best sixth-place finish two weeks ago at Michigan, running as high as fourth in the final laps of the rain-shortened race; his qualifying effort (fourth) at MIS in June tied career bests at Miami (1999), Daytona (7/00) and Atlanta (11/00); BLANEY passed 61 cars enroute to a career-best sixth-place finish at Texas in April after being forced to take a provisional starting spot (43rd) when tire problems doomed his qualifying effort; in March, BLANEY led 70 laps at Atlanta before a late-race tire problem derailed his effort; in the spring race at Darlington, BLANEY started 33rd (points) and finished 22nd; In his rookie WC season, BLANEY qualified 15th (28.824 secs.) and 22nd (29.458 secs.) in his two starts, respectively, at Darlington and finished 26th and 20th.

* BLANEY ranks 23rd in the Winston Cup driver points standings (2201), 96 points behind 22nd-place Jerry Nadeau and 204 points behind BDR teammate Ward Burton in 18th; BLANEY has a best-start of fourth (MIS) and best-finishes of sixth (Texas, MIS-2) in 23 starts during the 2001 season; BLANEY also ranks 14th in miles-completed (95%), more than two-thirds of his unfinished miles coming in the Daytona 500 (engine failure) and in New Hampshire (blown tire); Burton and BLANEY rank 3-4 in the points standings among all Dodge teams; BLANEY (four) and Burton (five) have combined for almost one-third of Dodge’s top-ten finishes in 2001.

DARLINGTON RACE (March, 2001)

After a promising test session had yielded great hope for the weekend, Dave Blaney's Darlington experience in March was doomed by a Saturday morning fog that cancelled qualifying, relegated the Amoco Ultimate Team 93 to a 33rd-place starting spot (on points) and mired him in the back of the field for much of the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.

While he ran top-ten lap times for much of the afternoon, Blaney fell a lap down early when leaders Jeff Gordon and Steve Park --running ahead of traffic-- reached the back of the field easily and began lapping cars before the one-third mark of the race. Crew Chief Doug Randolph and the #93 Amoco/Siemens crew improved the car with each stop but Blaney still finished 22nd. BDR teammate Ward Burton--the defending champion of the spring race at Darlington--finished 12th on the lead-lap behind race-winner Dale Jarrett.

As has been the case for many years at NASCAR's oldest speedway, an abrasive track surface and odd configuration are brutal on tires, allowing forward passing for only the first 10-15 laps of each team's new-tire run. At the start of the 293-lap race, Blaney improved 5-7 positions at the start but soon became prey for Gordon and Park's unimpeded pace at the front of the field and went a lap down before Lap 100. Blaney ran well enough throughout the remainder of the race to stay one-lap down to the leaders but the damage was done.

NOTE: One of Dave Blaney's best overall weekends in his brief 59-race NASCAR Busch Series stay culminated with a second-place finish behind Darlington wizard Mark Martin in the 1999 Busch Series Labor Day weekend race at Darlington.

BLANEY ran at the front throughout the afternoon with Martin and Matt Kenseth after qualifying 12th and was closing on the leader in the race's closing laps. The runner-up finish for Blaney on one of NASCAR's most difficult tracks highlighted his considerable progress in stock cars and opened up a healthy fall stretch that gave the #93 BDR team good momentum for Blaney's rookie WC season in 2000.

-BDR-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Steve Park , Jerry Nadeau , Dave Blaney , Mark Martin