DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7, 2007) -- Returning to the site of the first race of the season, Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team were eager to get to Daytona International Speedway to give their Toyota Camry another shot at...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7, 2007) -- Returning to the site of the first race of the season, Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team were eager to get to Daytona International Speedway to give their Toyota Camry another shot at restrictor-plate racing. After starting in the 40th spot due to rain, Blaney took the checkered flag in the 23rd place.
Blaney was the 11th of 53 competitors to take to the track for qualifying Friday afternoon. Because the No. 22 Bill Davis Racing team stood outside the top 35 in the owners' point standings, it was up to Blaney to drive his Toyota Camry solidly into the starting lineup. Blaney posted a speed of 184.961 mph on the second lap of his two-lap run and was set to line up on the outside of the front row before Mother Nature intervened. With 14 cars remaining in the qualifying session, rain showers moved into the Daytona Beach area. NASCAR officials were forced to cancel the remainder of qualifying and set the starting grid by points, race wins and attempts, thus moving the Cat Racing team back to the 40th position for the start of the race.
The green flag waved for the start of the event and an early caution gave the Cat Racing team the opportunity to make several adjustments to its Toyota Camry. Because it was an impound race and the team needed to qualify on time, the set up in the car was more conducive to qualifying than to racing in the draft. Blaney drove down pit road three times during the caution period and the crew made all of the necessary changes to the car.
Blaney communicated to crew chief Tommy Baldwin that the handling of the car was tight. When the second yellow flag of the day waved on lap 15, Baldwin called for track bar adjustments, four fresh Goodyear tires and the placement of a spring rubber in the right rear spring. Blaney returned to the track in the 33rd position for the lap 21 restart and moved through the field with the help of the draft during the ensuing laps. Blaney was in the top 20 when he reported to the crew that the No. 22 Camry had once again become very tight. The crew made a pit stop on lap 59 for four tires, fuel and track bar and wedge adjustments and returned Blaney to the track in the 22nd spot.
Blaney broke into the top 10 near the halfway point of the 160-lap event and remained within sight of the leader throughout the middle stages of the race. Baldwin called for changes to the car during several pit stops, and with 30 laps left in the race, Blaney let the team know that the car was the best it had been all night. Not long after that, Blaney was racing beside David Gilliland, who lost control of his machine and slammed into the side of the No. 22 Cat entry. Blaney maintained control of his car, but was forced to the pits during the ensuing caution period for minor repairs to the left side of his Camry. Blaney lined up in 29th place for the restart, and spent the final 12 laps advancing his position. He stood 23rd when the checkered flag waved.
The Caterpillar Racing team gained one spot in the owners' point standings and now holds 36th place. The team is 175 markers outside the top 35.
The Nextel Cup Series travels to Joliet, Ill., next weekend for the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Qualifying for the 19th event of the season will be held Friday, and Sunday afternoon's race is scheduled for a 3:55 p.m. ET start. The race will broadcast on TNT television, MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. Dave Blaney is scheduled to stop in Rossburg, Ohio, Tuesday evening to compete in a sprint car race with Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and the National Racing Alliance Sprint Invaders at Stewart's Eldora Speedway.