Michigan International Speedway
A Pit Road Incident Relegated Blaney to 34th-place Finish at Michigan
No. 36 holds onto 32nd in Owner Points
Dave Blaney started the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 from the 42nd position. A pit road incident during the first pit stop caused damage to the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) Chevrolet and relegated the team to a 34th-place finish at Michigan International Speedway. Despite the finish, the TBR team held onto the 32nd spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Owner Points.
Blaney posted a lap of 39.417 seconds to secure the 42nd starting spot in the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400. The Hartford, Ohio native took the green flag and quickly drove to the 34th position by the first caution on lap nine.
Happy with the changes the TBR team made to the Chevrolet for the race, Blaney drove down pit road for a four-tire pit stop. As he pulled into the pit box, Blaney was hit from behind by Regan Smith, which caused him to spin into the pit stall and damaged the left rear. Facing backwards, Blaney drove off and returned to pit road. The team worked to fix the damage to the left rear of the No. 36 Chevrolet.
The field restarted on lap 12 with Blaney in the 41st position. He worked his way back up to 33rd by lap 23 but radioed that the car was really loose and getting worse, especially in turns three and four. Three laps later, Blaney radioed that he lost the car in turn three and hit the wall with the right rear.
The second caution of the day on lap 28 allowed the team to reassess the damage and make changes to help the handling of the No. 36 TBR Chevrolet. The team made an air pressure and wedge adjustment during the four-tire pit stop. Blaney restarted 32nd on lap 30. Four laps later, he radioed that the changes made the car worse. It was now tight as well as the loose condition.
The TBR team continued to make changes to battle the aero problem the car was having from the damage on pit road and hitting the turn-three wall. The team made major adjustments on the last four pit stops, but Blaney continued to battle the aero-loose condition. He kept the car in the top-35 but fell three laps down. A caution with 10 laps to go allowed the team to stay out and get a lap back. Blaney finished 34th, two laps down.
The finish kept the No. 36 in the 32nd spot in NSCS Owner Points. The team now sits 23 points outside of 31st and 53 points ahead of 36th. Blaney holds onto the 31st position in NSCS Driver Points, 23 points behind David Gilliland in 30th.
“At the start of the race, the car was pretty good,” explained Blaney. “The team made a lot of changes before the race, and before the first caution, it ran really good. The incident on pit road with Regan hurt us, and then, I hit the wall in the corner and we couldn’t even run close. The start of the race was better than we were on Friday. We struggled in the corner on Friday but during the race that was way better. We didn’t get to race very long, but the car felt good when we did get to race. Making the improvement from Friday was definitely a step in the right direction.”