RICHMOND, Va. (Sept 8, 2007) -- Richmond International Raceway has been good to Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team the last several times the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series has raced there. The team earned fourth-place and 11th-place finishes...
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept 8, 2007) -- Richmond International Raceway has been good to Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team the last several times the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series has raced there. The team earned fourth-place and 11th-place finishes in its previous two starts at the .75-mile track, and Blaney and the crew were hoping for more of the same this time around. After qualifying 29th for the event, the No. 22 was one of five cars involved in a lap-294 accident. The team spent significant time in the garage making repairs to the car before Blaney drove to a 34th-place finish.
Blaney was the 16th of 47 competitors to take to the track for qualifying Friday evening. Because the No. 22 Bill Davis Racing 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 123.938 mph earned the team the 29th spot on the starting grid for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400.
Mired in traffic upon the start of the event Saturday night, Blaney knew that patience would be key in the early stages of the race. A lap 25 caution gave the team the opportunity to make a track bar adjustment to improve the handling of the Cat Camry, which Blaney had said was tight in the center of the corners. Crew Chief Tommy Baldwin also opted for right side tires only during that pit stop, in an effort to gain track position. Blaney took the green flag for the lap 30 restart in 17th place.
Blaney remained inside the top 20 throughout the first 100 laps of the 400-lap race. He stood in 16th place when a yellow flag waved on lap 133. He pitted along with the rest of the field and restarted 14th. Another scheduled four-tire pit stop during a caution period 50 laps later allowed the crew to make minor adjustments to the handling of the Caterpillar Toyota. The race resumed with Blaney in the 10th position.
The No. 22 was running directly behind the No. 42 entry when several cars got together around them. Things happen quickly on the Richmond short track, and Blaney was unable to get checked up in time before he hit the back end of Montoya's machine. The incident resulted in only minor damage to the front end of the Caterpillar Camry, but Blaney was forced to make several pit stops during the ensuing caution for front end repairs. He lined up for the lap 251 restart in the 30th spot.
The evening went from bad to worse just prior to the 300-lap mark. Several cars collided while racing three-wide in front of Blaney. Smoke from the spinning vehicles made it next to impossible for the competitors to see, and by the time Blaney saw Jamie McMurray's car stopped on the high side of the track, it was too late. Blaney made heavy contact with the No. 26, which resulted in heavy damage to the front end of the Cat Toyota. The team spent time in the garage area, making the repairs needed to get Blaney back out on track. He was able to do so with just over 50 laps remaining in the event. The Caterpillar Racing team took the checkered flag in the 34th spot.