Dave Blaney's sixth-place qualifying effort for the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway is his fifth top-ten starting position of the 2001 season, second only to his fourth-place start at Michigan (June) as the best start of the season for...
Dave Blaney's sixth-place qualifying effort for the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway is his fifth top-ten starting position of the 2001 season, second only to his fourth-place start at Michigan (June) as the best start of the season for the #93 Amoco/Siemens Dodge. The top-ten start comes in the first weekend with the #93 Bill Davis Racing Team for Crew Chief Philippe Lopez, who joins the team in preparation for the new alignment in the 2002 season with driver Hut Stricklin and sponsor Hills Brothers Coffee.
ROCKINGHAM RACE -- SPRING, 2001
Dave Blaney and Amoco Ultimate Team 93 restated their definitive momentum from the close of the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season with a steady, if unspectacular ninth-place finish in the rain-delayed DuraLube 400 this spring at North Carolina Speedway. The finish for Blaney-who started 16th after failing to qualify for the spring Rockingham race in his rookie WC season-was his third top-ten finish in five starts, dating back to consecutive top-ten finishes in October, 2000 at Phoenix and Miami. Blaney quickly moved the #93 Amoco/Siemens Dodge into the top-ten by Lap 100 on Day 2 of the delayed race, which was stopped on lap 51 on Sunday when persistent showers continued into the late afternoon. Blaney-who finished third in the NASCAR Busch Series race at NCS in October, 1999-showed no signs of the struggles the team experienced in his rookie visit to the tricky one-mile-plus oval, staying in the top-ten throughout the 393-lap race.
FACTS & FIGURES: PopSecret 400 (North Carolina Speedway)
DAVE BLANEY and BP-Amoco Ultimate Team 93 started 20th and finished 28th last weekend at Phoenix, struggling with an ill-handling car after a pit-road collision with teammate Ward Burton damaged the front-end alignment; he started 19th and finished 10th at Kansas last month, posting his fifth top-ten finish of the season; he earned a career-best sixth-place finish at Michigan (August), running as high as fourth in the final laps of the rain-shortened race; his qualifying effort (fourth) at MIS (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 (April) after being forced to take a provisional starting spot (43rd) when tire problems doomed his qualifying effort; BLANEY led 70 laps at Atlanta (March) before a late-race tire problem derailed his effort; in the spring race at NCS, BLANEY started 16th (23.705 secs.) and finished ninth; last fall in his rookie WC season, he started 22nd (23.573 secs.) at NCS but fell out early with engine failure (42nd); in four Busch Series races at NCS, his best start (6th) and finish (3rd) came in fall, 1999.
BLANEY ranks 24th in the Winston Cup points standings (2857), three points behind Steve Park and 79 points behind Terry Labonte in 22nd; BLANEY has a best-start of fourth (MIS) and best-finishes of sixth (Texas, MIS-2) in 32 starts during this season; BLANEY also ranks 20th in miles-completed (92.3%), more than 85% of his unfinished miles coming in the Daytona 500 (engine failure) in New Hampshire, Dover and Charlotte (blown tires); BDR teammate Ward Burton and BLANEY rank 3-4 in the points among 10 Dodge teams.
PHILIPPE LOPEZ joined the #93 Amoco/Siemens Dodge team as Crew Chief prior to the race in Rockingham; LOPEZ, 38, comes to the Bill Davis Racing Team after serving in the same capacity for several Winston Cup standouts, including three-time WC champion Darrell Waltrip, Steve Park and Ward Burton, Blaney's current teammate at BDR; A native of Verdun, France, LOPEZ most recently served as Race Director for Junie Donleavy Racing, where he joined forces with driver HUT STRICKLIN. LOPEZ AND STRICKLIN will again join forces in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season as Crew Chief and driver of the Hill Brothers Coffee Dodge at BDR. STRICKLIN will also join Burton and BLANEY in a third BDR Dodge Intrepid for the WC race in Atlanta in two weeks.
In addition to LOPEZ, JIMMY PENLAND took over as Car Chief for the #93 Dodge at Rockingham, replacing Car Chief Tom Hubert who assumed the job on an interim basis in mid-summer; PENLAND moves to the #93 team from a similar role with Crew Chief Tommy Baldwin, Jr. with the #22 Caterpillar Dodge team at BDR. Doug Randolph, Crew Chief for the #93 team since July, 2000, left BDR for another position in the sport.