Long Pond II: Dave Blaney preview

Since joining the ...

Since joining the #77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford team, Crew Chief RYAN PEMBERTON has brought consistently competitive entries to Pocono Raceway, averaging an 11th-place finish over the past five starts (since 2000), including Dave Blaney's 10th-place finish in June; in the Pennsylvania 500 last July, Robert Pressley finished ninth and was a contender throughout the race. The team returns to Pocono after last month's encouraging performance and an ensuing streak of bizarre luck over the interim four races that has prevented good results with fast race-cars at Sears Point, Daytona, Chicago and New Hampshire.

BLANEY on last weekend's crushing disappointment at New Hampshire, where he was spun into the wall on Lap 2 while passing for third-place:

"We'll never know what our day would have been like but I believe we made the changes necessary to have another good afternoon. It's just a shame that we've had such good qualifying efforts the last two weeks (seventh and fifth) and such good cars the last four weeks and not have anything to show for it. Realistically, we could have and should have put together about four top-ten finishes in a row, and the Chicago race (17th) is going to turn out to be our best finish in the last month. That hurts, but we also know (Crew Chief) Ryan's (Pemberton) really got us moving in the right direction each week at every kind of race track."

BLANEY on the June Pocono race and the importance of both Pocono events in preparation for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis next weekend:

"With no real track-time when we came here in June, we were steady all day and came out of it with a top-ten finish. In this stretch of six races from the first Pocono race through Indianapolis, only (the road-course at) Sears Point is not one of those tracks where you fight flat-track type characteristics in some form and all the aerodynamic challenges you feel in traffic when you're trying to get around someone.

Of all the tracks we run in mid-summer, Pocono most closely prepares us for the Brickyard because you have to have a real sensitive combination of horsepower and aero for the long straight and handling for the wide, flat turns, all things that matter a lot at Indianapolis. Guys that run well at Pocono usually run well at Indy and most every team will take a close look at what works at Pocono and apply that to their Indy test data before heading to Indianapolis.

* DAVE BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team enter the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway ranked 22nd in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings, only 41 points behind 18th-place Jeff Green; in the June race at Pocono, Blaney started 21st (points) and finished 10th; in five WC career starts at Pocono, Blaney has a best-start of 18th (52.862 secs.--7/00), an average-start of 25th, a best-finish of 10th (6/01) and an average-finish of 16.8; in 19 starts at Pocono, the #77 Jasper team has a best-start of third (Greg Sacks--7/94), an average-start of 26.6, a best-finish of fifth (Ted Musgrave--6/93) and an average-finish of 21.6.

* Since joining the #77 Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford team, Crew Chief Ryan Pemberton has brought consistently competitive entries to Pocono, averaging an 11th-place finish over the past five starts (since 2000), including Blaney's 10th-place finish in June; in the Pennsylvania 500 last July, Robert Pressley finished ninth and was a contender throughout the race.

* As the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season reaches its Race #20 after the New England 300 at New Hampshire International Raceway last weekend, the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team in 2002 holds the same rank in the Winston Cup point standings (22nd) as in 2001, but has better average-start (24.15-26.88) and average-finish (20.68-21.63) ratios; BLANEY ranks fifth in miles completed behind Penske-Jasper Engines teammate Rusty Wallace (sixth in points), defending NASCAR Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon (fifth in points), Rookie-of-the-Year leader Jimmie Johnson (third in points) and Bill Elliott (10th in points); BLANEY ranked 26th in the 2001 Winston Cup standings entering the second 2001 race at Pocono with the #93 BDR Dodge.

* Since his ninth-place finish at California in late April, BLANEY has posted three top-15 finishes, led four races, and run at the front of several other events, including Sears Point and Daytona--where Blaney ran in the top-ten for more than two-thirds of each race before late trouble; over the last two weekends, Blaney has posted consecutive season-best starts (7th-Chicago; 5th-NHIS), but suffered crippling problems early in each race, racing from behind to finish 17th at Chicago after being forced to the rear of the field at the start when his car stalled on pit road and being spun into the wall on Lap 2 at NHIS while passing for third-place. He finished 16 laps down in 35th.

* Rusty Wallace leads the three Penske-Jasper Engines entries in the 2002 Winston Cup standings in fourth-place (2,477 points--2 top-fives, 11 top-tens), 127 points behind leader Sterling Marlin; Ryan Newman (2,193 points) ranks 12th (7 top-fives, 10 top-tens); BLANEY ranks 22nd (1,921 points).

* After years of considering the possibility, BLANEY bought historic Sharon (PA) Speedway, the hometown track for the racing family and one of the oldest continuously running weekly racetracks in the United States, late in 2001; he purchased the track, which began competition in 1929, with father, Lou--still a regular competitor at the facility--and a group of local investors; with expansion to a capacity of 8,500, the high-banked 3/8-mile oval now hosts four divisions for the first time on Saturday nights from late spring through the traditional Sharon Nationals over Labor Day weekend; the track also features two World of Outlaws dates (May 31 and this Wednesday, July 31), the first time sprint-car racing's premier series has visited the 72-year old track.

-jm-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Rusty Wallace , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Ryan Newman , Robert Pressley , Ted Musgrave , Jimmie Johnson , Greg Sacks , Dave Blaney