Dave Blaney -- ...
Dave Blaney -- #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford
* DAVE BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team enter the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway ranked 22nd in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings, 39 points behind 17th-place Dale Jarrett and 149 points behind 10th-place Elliott Sadler after his 13th-place finish at California Speedway last weekend; BLANEY started 18th and remained in the top-15 throughout the race, leading early and rallying late after fading slightly in the race's second-half after a two-tire stop did not yield results.
* Jeremy Mayfield's pole position at Talladega (4/6) gave PENSKE-JASPER ENGINES one win and four pole positions in ten races thus far in 2003; Mayfield and Evernham Motorsports teammate Bill Elliott used PJE power at Talladega as part of a cooperative program between the two entities;RUSTY WALLACE leads the trio of PJE-powered entries, ranking 12th (1,140 points-3 top-10s), while Penske teammate RYAN NEWMAN, who won at Texas in late March, dropped to 25th (980 points-two pole positions, 3 top-10s) after an early-exit at California (42nd); BLANEY ranks 22nd (100 points-one pole position, 3 top-10s).
* BLANEY's 13th-place finish at California was his best finish since his career-best third-place finish at Darlington last month, the third top-ten finish over a four-week stretch (10th at NCS after his first career pole position, eighth at Atlanta) following the season-opening Daytona 500.
* In last year's races at Richmond, BLANEY started 28th (21.485 secs.) and tied for second with Ryan Newman (21.474 secs.) and finished 29th and ninth in his first trips to the track with the #77 Jasper team; in the fall, Blaney raced at the front early before fading into the teens mid-race, going a lap down the caution flag fell during his green-flag stop; he made the lap back up by Lap 253. finishing ninth; BLANEY's best career WC start/finish came last fall at Richmond, also the best-start and finish for Jasper-sponsored entries in 16 starts at RIR.
* The Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond Int. Raceway will be the 11th 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 Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond will be BARKER's 15th 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.
* This weekend's race is also BARKER's 16th 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.