Las Vegas: Dave Blaney preview

Jasper Motorsports Dave Blaney -- ...

Jasper Motorsports
Dave Blaney -- #77 Jasper Engines & Tranmissions Ford

BLANEY ON LAS VEGAS RACE--."We're pretty optimistic about this weekend, even though we didn't test in January and really didn't get much testing in anywhere with our downforce cars. We tried about a half-dozen times to get to Kentucky over the winter and ended up getting in one day due to all the bad weather we've had through the Mid-South.

"We've changed quite a bit about our approach to the direction we're going with our cars since (new Crew Chief) Bootie (Barker) and (new Fabrication Shop Foreman) Pat Marshall became a part of the program last December. With the way our car ran last weekend at Rockingham (started first, finished tenth), we think we've gone in a positive direction, compared to where we were last year with our cars for the mid-size speedways.

"We had three primary cars finished for Rockingham, Las Vegas and Atlanta and we picked the one we liked the least to run last week at North Carolina Speedway. I ran pretty well at Las Vegas in only my third race with the Jasper team last year, (started 10th, finished 18th, a front-runner until brushing the Turn 2 wall midway in the race) but we want a little more out of our start to the season than we we able to do last spring."

BLANEY ON FIRST CAREER POLE POSITION, TOP-TEN FINISH AT NCS-- "It's just been a good feeling all week in the shop for the whole Jasper team, even though we didn't run quite the way we wanted to in the race. They put in so much work this winter. We've had all kinds of new guys come in on top of the guys we had and we're really excited about the whole year.

"We thought we'd come out looking good. We did not think we'd come out and get a pole at the second race, but it is definitely a great deal to get off to that sort of a start, to get in the Bud Shootout next year at Daytona, and to reaffirm some of the changes that have been going in within the program.

"We building different kinds of cars, and we have different people building them. We just have a whole bunch of new processes in place. We're went into the off-season trying to improve our team a little bit everywhere. On paper, I was real excited because I felt we did that, but you never know until you come out and race.

"(Crew Chief) Bootie Barker has re-energized our whole team. Our owners (Doug Bawel, Mark Harrah, Mark Wallace) did a great job bringing new people in over the winter all through the shop, and with the over-the-wall pit crew. And Bootie's got a great attitude instilled in them. I thought we were a greatly improved team on paper, but you never know until you come out and race."

* DAVE BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team enter the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas (NV) Motor Speedway ranked 15th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings following a 10th-place finish from the pole position in the Subway 400 at Rockingham last weekend; after winning his first career WC pole position and also the first for the current Jasper team ownership, BLANEY led the race's first eight laps, remained in the top-15 throughout the race, and was one of the fastest cars in the field during the 100 laps straddling the race's mid-point.

* In three starts at LVMS, BLANEY has a best start tenth (3/02--31.607 secs.) and a best finish of eighteenth (3/02), each in his first race at LVMS last spring with the #77 Jasper Ford team; in four starts at LVMS, Jasper Motorsports has a best start of tenth (3/02-BLANEY) and a best finish of sixteenth (3/01-Robert Pressley); in his one Busch Series start (1999) at LVMS; BLANEY started of 32nd and finished of 20th; in two starts (2001-02) with Busch Series driver Scott Wimmer at LV, Crew Chief Bootie Barker's BDR entries started 38th and 35th, respectively, and finished 13th and 11th.

* BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Motorsports team finished the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season ranked 19th in the WC owner standings, 24 points behind the #30 Richard Childress Racing Team in 18th; in the WC driver's standings, BLANEY trailed 18th-place Sterling Marlin and 17th-place Jeff Green by only 23 and 24 points, respectively, in the final rankings; both the #77 team and the driver rankings were career-bests for each, as was BLANEY's 2002 season-earnings total ($2,978,593).

* The UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 will be the third race with the #77 Jasper Ford team for ROBERT "BOOTIE" BARKER, who joined the team in November; BARKER is a former chassis/shock specialist for the #24 Hendrick Motorsports team for four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon (1999-2000) and for the #22 Bill Davis Racing team and driver Ward Burton (1998-99); BARKER rejoined BDR in fall, 2000 as crew chief for Scott Wimmer, then a recent graduate of the American Speed Association (ASA), and flourished in his first managerial role, guiding Wimmer to four NASCAR Busch Series victories in the final eight races of 2002 and finishes of 11th and third, respectively, in the standings (2001-02).

* The UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 will be BARKER's seventh WC start as a crew chief; in addition to a full-time Busch Series program in 2002, Barker also directed a limited NASCAR Winston Cup program at BDR for Wimmer, including starts at Bristol and Phoenix; in his first career WC start, BARKER guided Wimmer to a 22nd-place finish, leading nine laps in an unexpected debut at Atlanta (11/00) when his scheduled ARCA qualifying was rained out and Car Owner Davis opted for an attempt to make the WC field; it's BARKER's eighth NASCAR start with BLANEY, who finished third at both Dover and Charlotte in fall, 2000 in BDR Busch entries (four races total) as well as BLANEY's final WC race for BDR (2001) at Atlanta (qualified a then-career-best third, led 16 laps before engine failure) with Barker.

* BLANEY's 2002 season-best qualifying effort was third (Richmond 2), matching his then-WC career-best at Atlanta (11/01), and was one of five top-ten starts in 2002; his seventh-place finish at Phoenix in November was his fifth top-ten finish of the season and his best finish of 2002; his career-best WC finish is sixth (Texas, Michigan 2, Miami-- 2001).

-jm-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Robert Pressley , Scott Wimmer , Dave Blaney , Bootie Barker
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Bill Davis Racing