Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2001. UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 Amoco Ultimate Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Blaney finished ninth on Monday in the rain-delayed Dura Lube 400 at North Carolina Speedway in...
Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2001. UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 Amoco Ultimate Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Blaney finished ninth on Monday in the rain-delayed Dura Lube 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. The 36-year-old Hartford, Ohio, driver made his first NASCAR Winston Cup start at Rockingham in 1992. He competed in only his second Winston Cup race at Rockingham on Monday because Blaney didn't qualify for last year's Dura Lube 400. He completed only 115 laps last fall before engine problems relegated him to a 42nd place finish. In his second full season behind the wheel for car owner Bill Davis, Blaney record his third top-10 finish in the his last five starts. He finished eighth last year at Phoenix and ninth at Homestead en route to a third-place finish in the Raybestos rookie of the year race.
"We didn't have a lot of notes to rely on yesterday at Rockingham, and it's probably just as well. I don't think it would have mattered because we were on a new tire and everyone was tight. Ward (teammate Burton) and his guys ran great last year at Rockingham, and they were tight all day, too. The 93 team didn't have a lot of experience at Rockingham, but we learned a lot yesterday. "The Dodges didn't do that well at Rockingham (two top-10 finishes), but it's hard to blame that on the car. Rockingham is a handling race track. Tire management is always important there, and with the new tire Goodyear brought, well, we just had to figure everything out."
OUTLOOK FOR LAS VEGAS
"All the Dodge teams tested out there, and everything went good. We tested at Kentucky Speedway a couple of times with the Dodge, and the Kentucky track is a lot like Las Vegas. We've got a new tire for Las Vegas, too, and that might throw us off a little bit, but I think we've got a good idea of what we need out there. I ran decent in the Winston Cup race at Las Vegas last year. We finished 22nd. I ran a Busch race out there in 1999 and we weren't good at all. I think Las Vegas will be a good test for Dodge to see where we stand with the body, engine, downforce and balance. All of those things will show up at Las Vegas. This will be the first real good test for the downforce cars. We really won't get a good idea of how the Dodge stacks up on everything until after Atlanta, and we're looking forward to that race, too."
DID YOU EXPECT TO START THIS SEASON LIKE YOU ENDED LAST YEAR?
"Yes, we really did feel like we could start off that way. We got knocked out at Daytona (after 135 of 200 laps with engine problems), and never really got a chance to show what we had there. We weren't that confident going to Rockingham because I had never run well there, but we ran Tuesday, between seventh and 10th most of the day. If we can be in the top 15 every week, that's what we're shooting for. That might not sound like much of a goal, but it's realistic and it's tougher than it sounds. With more than 40 teams racing every week, a top 15 every week would put you in some pretty select company."
DO YOU MAKE TIME TO HAVE SOME FUN IN LAS VEGAS?
"Yes, but that doesn't mean I go to the casinos. I'm not much on gambling. It's not gambling for me. It's just losing, so I stay away from that. I have my fun at the race track. Plus, the sprint cars are running out there on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so I'll go watch my brother Dale run."
DO YOU THINK IT'LL BE BUSINESS AS USUAL IN LAS VEGAS?
"I'm not sure about that. Dale Earnhardt was a great driver, and his death hit me harder than I thought it would. A couple of days were really hard. I've been through it before. Kevin Goebrecht got killed driving my sprint car (in 1999), but that doesn't make it any easier. It was great to see Steve Park win (in DEI car) at Rockingham. That wasn't a surprise though, because those three DEI teams have great stuff, and they'll have a chance to win every week."
WHEN DO YOU THINK THE DODGE INTREPID WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN?
"I think it has a good chance every week, too. I think we'll do well at Las Vegas and Atlanta. We had a good chance to win at Atlanta last November. We lined up fourth on that last restart and ended up 18th. You have to learn from those lessons and not make the same mistakes twice. We need to do well at Vegas and Atlanta. We don't want to dig ourselves in a hole in the points. Everyone wants to do well in the first four races because of the points, but we think we're going to have a good combination at Las Vegas. The Jack Roush teams have had everybody covered out there, but maybe one of the Dodge teams can put an end to that streak. I don't know what the odds of a Dodge win at Las Vegas will be, and I don't know a lot about odds and stuff, but I wouldn't think we'd be that much of a longshot."
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
MARLIN SECOND IN POINTS AFTER FIRST TWO EVENTS
Sterling Marlin, driver of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T, finished eighth Monday at Rockingham and moved to second in the series standings after the first two races. Marlin opened the season with a seventh-place finish at Daytona. He trails leader Rusty Wallace by only 13 points. Marlin and Wallace are the only two drivers with two top 10 finishes after the first two races, but Marlin is listed as a Las Vegas longshot to win the NASCAR Winston Cup championship this season. According to SportsBetting.com on Tuesday, Marlin is listed at 20-1 to win the 2001 championship. Marlin, a 43-year-old veteran from Columbia, Tenn., has 505 career starts, 10 career poles and six career victories. His career-best finish in the standings came in 1995 with Morgan-McClure Motorsports when he finished third.