LOUDON, N.H. (Sept 16, 2007) -- After starting in the 10th spot for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team experienced a rash of problems during the event. After, among other things,...
LOUDON, N.H. (Sept 16, 2007) -- After starting in the 10th spot for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team experienced a rash of problems during the event. After, among other things, a flat tire and two impacts with the wall, Blaney drove his Bill Davis Racing Toyota Camry to a 35th-place finish.
Blaney was the 36th of 49 competitors to take to the track for qualifying Friday afternoon. Because the No. 22 team stood just outside the top 35 in the owners' point standings, it was up to Blaney to drive his Toyota Camry solidly into the starting lineup. His speed of 129.164 mph earned the team the 10th spot on the starting grid for the Sylvania 300 and scored Blaney his sixth top-10 qualifying effort of the season.
The green flag waved for the start of the event Sunday afternoon, and Blaney immediately communicated to crew chief Tommy Baldwin that the handling of the Caterpillar ride was tight through the center and off the corners. Because both scheduled practice sessions Saturday were cancelled due to rain, NASCAR officials waved a competition caution flag at lap 37. Blaney relinquished the 14th position to duck down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure and wedge adjustments on lap 38. Several teams chose to take on only two tires during their stops, and Blaney returned to the track in the 17th position.
Baldwin called for both wedge and track bar adjustments during the next stop, which came during a caution period on lap 70. But when Blaney returned to the track for the green flag, he let the team know that the car was still extremely tight and he was struggling with the brakes. He began to fall through the field before realizing that he had a left rear tire going flat. Blaney drove down pit road for fresh left side tires on lap 93 and returned to the track two laps in arrears and in 39th position.
The lead cars began to make scheduled pit stops on lap 135 of the 300-lap event, and a caution flag on lap 150 helped Blaney earn one of his laps back. Baldwin used the ensuing pit stop to add packers to the front shocks in an effort to get the front splitter of the car off the ground, which had been a problem for the entire length of the race. Blaney stood 35th at the halfway point of the event.
Blaney's Caterpillar Camry was hit by the No. 84 machine on lap 163, and the No. 22 machine's resulting impact with the outside wall caused minor damage to the left side and rear end of the car. Blaney did a good job of not going another lap down, and the crew made the needed repairs on pit road. After another round of pit stops and the addition of more packers to the front shocks, Blaney indicated to his crew that the car had better drive off and was not hitting the ground as it was before.
Blaney had driven the Cat car into the top 30 when he was once again hit from behind. This time the culprit was the No. 01, and again, Blaney made contact with the outside wall. The crew fixed the additional sheet metal damage during a lap 190 stop, and the team remained only one lap down in 35th spot.
Blaney moved through slower traffic and was holding 30th place in the closing laps of the race when he ran short of fuel. Due to the damage to the rear and side of the car, the crew had not been able to get the needed amount of gas into the machine during the previous stop. After stopping for a splash of fuel with seven laps remaining in the race, the team took the checkered flag in 35th place.