Darlington Raceway 500
Blaney Battled the Lady In Black to finish 24th
No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet Moved to 32nd in Owner Points
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 8, 2011) – Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) achieved the team goal to stay clean and conclude the Showtime Southern 500 with a solid finish. Dave Blaney drove the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet to a 24th-place finish from the 42nd starting spot. The top-25 finish moved the team up to 32nd in NASCAR Sprint Cup (NSCS) Owner Points.
The Golden Corral team started the weekend focusing on race runs in practice. Blaney made 11 race-trim laps in practice before rain canceled the rest of the practice sessions. The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet qualified 42nd for the Showtime Southern 500.
Blaney took the green flag from the back on the pack and focused on keeping the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet clean and slowly working his way through the field. The Buckeye Bullet battled a very tight condition in the first run but wheeled up to the 31st spot by lap nine. Crew chief Tommy Baldwin radioed for Blaney to pit during the lap 36 caution. The team changed four tires, added fuel and made major adjustments to the Golden Corral Chevrolet.
The No. 36 restarted 31st on lap 41. Blaney quickly radioed that the Golden Corral Chevrolet was really loose and worse in turns three and four. By lap 62, the Hartford, Ohio native was running faster laps but told the crew the car began to revert back to the tight condition. The No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet fell a lap down on lap 70 while in the 30th spot. A caution on lap 75 allowed the team to make more changes to the car. A quick caution 10 laps later gave Blaney the lucky dog. He drove down pit road for service and restarted at the back of the field in 30th.
By lap 100, Blaney radioed that the car was loose everywhere and not getting better, and Carl Edwards lapped the No. 36 on lap 115. Another caution on lap 124 gave the team the lucky dog again. Blaney said the car was worse in turns one and three but really loose all around the track. The crew changed four tires, added fuel and continued to make changes to help the handling of the Golden Corral Chevrolet.
Blaney continued to race in the top-30. The team battled the handling of the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet, as the car would swing from being really loose to tight with each change. By halfway of the 500-mile event, Blaney was in the 30th spot and struggling to find grip. By lap 243, the balance of the No. 36 Chevrolet was better, but the team still worked to find grip. Blaney fell two laps down on lap 277 while in the 26th position.
We went into the weekend looking to survive and have a solid points day, and we definitely achieved that.
The Golden Corral Chevrolet was loose during the final runs of the 370-lap race, but Blaney worked to keep the nose clean and get a solid finish. Knowing the No. 36 was the only car three laps down with 60 to go, the TBR team focused on making changes to the racecar to improve the handling. By lap 342, the No. 36 car’s lap times improved with Blaney stuck three laps down.
On-track incidents and clean driving moved Blaney to the 24th position when the field attempted a green-white-checkered finish. When the checkered flag dropped, the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet was in the 24th position, three laps down.
The top-25 finish moved the TBR team up two spots in the NSCS Owner Points. The No. 36 is now 32nd, 16 points ahead of the 36th spot. Blaney also moved up in the NSCS Driver Standings and is in the 31st position.
“We struggled with the handling of the Golden Corral Chevrolet from the beginning of the weekend, but the team never gave up. It seemed like the handling would swing back and forth from tight to loose. We just couldn’t find a good middle ground. We got better by the end of the race, which is our goal every week. We went into the weekend looking to survive and have a solid points day, and we definitely achieved that.”
The TBR team will head to Dover International Speedway next weekend locked into the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks on Sunday, May 15th.