Dave Blaney still hopes for victory in NASCAR'S upper echelon before NEXTEL takes over. Mooresville, NC - Dave Blaney, driver of the No. 77 Jasper Engines and Transmission Ford Taurus, is no stranger to victory Lane. He is highly regarded as...
Dave Blaney still hopes for victory in NASCAR'S upper echelon before NEXTEL takes over.
Mooresville, NC - Dave Blaney, driver of the No. 77 Jasper Engines and Transmission Ford Taurus, is no stranger to victory Lane. He is highly regarded as one of open-wheel racing's most accomplished drivers. Regardless of the reverence he is greeted with in the open-wheel family, he still seeks that elusive first victory in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and knows his time is limited.
In 1984, Blaney did what racing legends such as A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and the 2002 Winston Cup Series Champion, Tony Stewart could not do; he became the youngest-ever USAC Silver Crown champion-- as a rookie.
In 1993 and 1994 Blaney finished as runner up in the World of Outlaws. In 1995 he secured the championship and went on to finish as runner up for two more seasons from 1996 to 1997.
Despite his racing success and promising talent, Blaney looks forward to receiving the adulation of his stock car peers and joining the ranks of Winston Cup Victory Lane visitors before the new era.
"My entire NASCAR career has centered around driving into Victory Lane and standing next to Ms. Winston," said Blaney. "For those of us who have not experienced the excitement, I think we all would like to say we have a Winston Cup Victory and we may even feel cheated if we don't accomplish it.
"R.J. Reynolds and the Winston brand in particular have been very good to NASCAR and the competitors," said Blaney. "I mean no disrespect but if I don't win in Winston Cup, I think I will feel cheated somehow. That's not to say I don't hope for several NEXTEL victories down the road."
Blaney feels he has a competitive team with the Jasper Engines and Transmissions organization and when Bootie Baker joined the team to fill the Crew Chief role Ryan Pemberton vacated at the end of the 2002 season, Blaney felt the team would surge forward; now he just wants the 'monkey' to leave.
"If victories were won by determination, this Jasper crew would have several trophies," said Blaney. "Every week they roll into the track and push themselves to the limits, we just can't get this monkey off our backs.
"With Bootie joining us at the beginning of the 2003 season, I just knew it wouldn't be long until we found our way into Victory Lane," he continued. "But here we are after 27 weeks still hunting."
Barker's influence and competitive nature fueled Blaney's desire to win. Blaney was excited about climbing into his car. After securing the first pole position ever for the Jasper Motorsports in Rockingham back in February as well as three top-10's in the first five events, Blaney felt the old energies stir from within.
"We came out of the box this season so hard, I think everyone knew we had arrived," said Blaney. "It was a great feeling. I wanted to get in and race the heck out of anyone who would run me. Bootie did a great job with the set-ups and it was good to be competitive again."
Not willing to take credit for the accomplishments, Barker attributes the success to a solid team effort with high resolve.
"The guys are racers," said Barker. "They want to win every week or they wouldn't be a part of this team. In stock car racing it is never about one person. The minute it is, it's time to move to a different job."
Prior to the 14th place finish in New Hampshire, the No. 77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford Taurus finished 25th or worse in the previous six races with their last top-10 coming in Pocono in July, eight races ago.
So what has changed since the first five races?
The determination and desire are still there. The driver has remained the same. The team has not experienced the loss of a team member to another competitor's crew, they are not under the pressure of securing a sponsor to compete in the 2004 season and assuredly, the team owners are not planning to sell-out to another proprietor.
With all the key factors eliminated, it has been challenging to locate the source of the calamity. Again, it is the monkey on their back.
"I know the rest of the team is frustrated," said Blaney. "I can see it in their faces and I hear it in their voices. At this point, we are not even thinking outside of our parameters. We don't expect to win like our Penske Jasper Powered teammate, Ryan Newman. We just want to run solid."
"Our definition of running solid is to finish on the lead lap with all four fenders still intact," he continued. "We are taking the steps necessary to keep it together. We are working hard on our communications to make sure we don't have a breakdown. We have not become complacent, we just can't shake this ape."