After completing 90% and 92% of his laps, respectively, in his first two NASCAR Winston Cup Series seasons, DAVE BLANEY NOW LEADS ALL DRIVERS IN LAPS-COMPLETED (98.3%--see note below) entering this weekend's MBNA America 400 at Dover Downs. With...
After completing 90% and 92% of his laps, respectively, in his first two NASCAR Winston Cup Series seasons, DAVE BLANEY NOW LEADS ALL DRIVERS IN LAPS-COMPLETED (98.3%--see note below) entering this weekend's MBNA America 400 at Dover Downs. With only 169 total stock-car starts in any division (WC, Busch, ARCA) in his career, BLANEY has made great strides with the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team in 2002 after a challenging transition from his storied sprint-car career, when he suffered six DNFs in his first seven starts during an abbreviated first season in 1998 in the #93 NASCAR Busch Series entry for Bill Davis Racing.
--.DAVE BLANEY on consistency of #77 Jasper Ford in 2002--.."To have the best laps-completed percentage with three-fourths of the season gone is an important statistic for our team, because it is my first season with Jasper Motorsports and it took a while for us to get on the same page about what worked best between the cars they had and the cars I felt like I wanted to drive. A lot of hit-and-miss between myself and (Crew Chief) Ryan (Pemberton) could have put me in a position early in the season where finishing laps might not have been a given.
"Also, with this being the first full year with the one-engine rule, our guys at Penske-Jasper Engines have succeeded in making great gains throughout the year without sacrificing reliability. I wish our laps-completed had put us in a better position in the points. We're surrounded in that category by guys that are all in the top-seven (points-leader Mark Martin, third-place Jimmie Johnson, seventh-place Bill Elliott, sixth-place Rusty Wallace--another PJE entry), but we have nine races to go to improve that, and we're gaining on it every week."
--.BLANEY on first Dover race with #77 Jasper team in June--.."The June race at Dover was probably the only race since the California race in late April where we just missed the set-ups for the weekend entirely. We struggled in qualifying (39th) and in the race (29th), but I don't think the problem was a huge one. We've gone back and looked at what we used for shocks and air-pressures, and are coming back with a little different idea of how to approach the race. Historically, I've not run that well in Winston Cup at Dover (best-finish/25th in June, 2000), but we ran really well in the Busch car (best-finishes/sixth and eighth in four starts) and I guess I'm one of the guys that really likes the challenges that Dover presents us with."
--.BLANEY on last fall's trip to Dover, the first race after the September 11 tragedies in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania--.."After missing the week for the scheduled New Hampshire race, I don't think anyone knew what to expect when we went back to the track at Dover last September. The problems that NASCAR had to overcome to prepare for all the fans coming back to the track were pretty enormous, and every part of our usual weekend routine--from what we were up against flying into race-markets to just getting into the garage each morning--was changed dramatically. No matter how long we keep coming back to Dover to race, there's probably not many of us who won't remember what it was like to be there a year ago this week, with all the flags, the special tribute car designs and the way the crowd was energized with such a patriotic feeling. It's a vivid memory still."
* DAVE BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team enter the MBNA 400 at Dover Downs ranked 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings, 108 points behind Jeff Green (18th); in five career WC starts at Dover, BLANEY has best-start of 16th (22.875 secs.-9/00) and an average-start of 29.4, his best-finish at Dover is 25th (6/00) and his average-finish is 32.2; in 19 starts at Dover, the #77 Jasper team has a best-start of 15th (Robert Pressley--22.869 secs.--7/02), an average-start of 30/26, a best-finish of 12th (Bobby Hillin--9/96) and an average-finish of 28.21.
* In the June race at Dover, BLANEY qualified 39th(23.795 secs.) in the #77 Jasper Ford, and finished 29th, four laps down to race-winner Jimmie Johnson; his season-best qualifying effort is third (Richmond 2), matching his WC career-best at Atlanta (11/01); his ninth-place finish at Richmond two weeks ago was his third top-ten of 2002, matching his season-best at California; his career-best WC finish is sixth (Texas, Michigan 2, Miami-- 2001).
* After 27 races in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season, BLANEY RANKS FIRST IN LAPS COMPLETED (7,656 of 7,786/98.3%) AND RANKS THIRD IN MILES COMPLETED (10,345.474 of 10,504.64/98.5%), trailing only Jimmie Johnson (99.1%--by 62.267 miles) and Bill Elliott (98.8%--by 37.201 miles); Rusty Wallace is the second Penske-Jasper Engine entry in the top-five in both categories, ranking fifth in laps-completed and miles-completed.
* Rusty Wallace leads the three PENSKE-JASPER ENGINES entries in the 2002 Winston Cup standings in sixth-place (3,399 points--4 top-fives, 13 top-tens), 146 points behind leader Mark Martin; Ryan Newman (3,353 points) ranks eighth (a WC Series-leading 13 top-fives and 17 top-tens, including his win at NHIS); BLANEY and the #77 Jasper team rank 20th in the WC owners points (2,725 points); BLANEY ranked 25th entering the 28th-race of the 2001 season (at Dover) in the #93 BDR Dodge.