Blaney Suffers Heartbreak at Talladega
Leads 21 Laps, Finishes 27th in the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet
MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Going into the weekend, the No. 36 Golden Corral Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) team had one goal: finish in the top-10 and feed American families at Golden Corral locations on Monday. TBR was poised to contend for the win for the majority of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Dave Blaney drove the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet to the lead for 21 laps at six different occasions, before a race incident with four laps to go spoiled his hopes for a top-10 finish.
The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet took the green flag of the Aaron’s 499 from the 35th position. Crew chief Tommy Baldwin joined spotter Carl Miller on the spotter stand and ran teammate strategy throughout the race while Miller handled typical spotting duties. During the first 100 laps, Blaney teamed up with Kevin Harvick and ran toward the back to avoid incidents. The pair practiced strategy and experimented with switching the leader of the duo while teamed up in the back.
By lap 100 of the 188-scheduled laps, Blaney took the lead in the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet for the first of six times. The final 88 laps of the Aaron’s 499 were filled with excitement as Golden Corral and American families saw the chance of the “Top-10 Kids Eat Free” promotion, in which Golden Corral would give a free kids buffet with a paying adult on Monday, April 18th.
Blaney spent the remaining laps jostling for position within the top-10. He worked with Harvick until a lap-144 restart when Harvick teamed up with his teammate and the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet paired with Regan Smith. Showing the car’s speed and his driving prowess, Blaney drove back to the lead with Smith pushing closely behind. The Buckeye Bullet came over the radio and proclaimed he had a fast racecar with someone fast pushing him.
But, I am really happy for this TBR team. I think we really showed that we can contend for the win.
TBR found another dancing partner in Kurt Busch and rocketed to the lead on lap 180. Knowing the leader is usually steamrolled in the final laps, the new pairing fell back to the 13th spot and positioned to go after the win. Going into turn four with four laps to go, Busch pushed Blaney as the No. 36 approached traffic, and the Golden Corral Chevrolet spun coming off of turn four. Blaney quickly recovered without damage but fell back to the last car on the lead lap. With the spin and continued green-flag racing, Blaney drove to a 27th-place finish. Adding to the disappointing finish, the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet fell back to 37th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Owner Standings, 12 points outside of the top-35.
“It could have been a great day for us,” explained Blaney. “Contending for the lead felt great. We had a really fast car, especially when we had a fast guy behind us. It’s disappointing that we missed out on a great points day and finish for Golden Corral. But, I am really happy for this TBR team. I think we really showed that we can contend for the win. It was really disappointing to not have the finish to show for it, but leading the second most laps and being there near the end was very exciting.”
Blaney and the TBR team will return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) action following an off-weekend. The No. 36 TBR Chevrolet will compete at Richmond International Raceway for the Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 on Saturday, April 30th.