Texas: Dave Blaney preview

Jasper Motorsports Dave Blaney -- ...

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

--..DAVE BLANEY ON RETURN TO TEXAS AND HIS TEAM'S EARLY SUCCESS AT MID-SIZE TRACKS--."We're taking a brand new Jasper-built car to Texas this weekend that's very similar to the car we've used this season at Rockingham, Atlanta and Darlington, all pretty good weekends (top-ten finishes) for our team. With the changes we've made to the way these cars are being built now, we feel like we're absolutely going in the right direction with what we need to be competitive at the front of the field every week. We lost a lot of the ground we gained in the point standings (with a career-best third-place finish) at Darlington, but things are still really close all through the standings and I believe we've got some time to get some better consistency and settle in a little higher in the standings than where we are this week (16th)."

--..BLANEY ON LAST WEEKEND'S EARLY PROBLEMS AT BRISTOL AFTER BEING SIDELINED BY MICHAEL WALTRIP'S SPINNING CAR--."It's really hard to say what might have been but the first few green-flag laps gave me the feeling we were right in the ballpark with what we need to really race to the front. I guess that's what is the hardest about the way it all unfolded because I've not had the best luck at Bristol and it was over before we could find out what we had.

"I'm not sure what happened with Michael's car or why he couldn't gather it back up on new tires when it broke loose. He was well in front of me, and there's wasn't any contact until after he'd gotten completely sideways and kept coming down the track and took me into the wall. He was loose from the start and I had one change to get by him if I'd tapped him a little bit, but who wants to start all that in the first 10 laps of the race. There's enough of that as you go along.

"I'm really discouraged because we lost 10 positions in the points, but you always run the risk of that at Bristol, where a driver can't control much of what happens in situations like we were in. I am encouraged that we're unloading really fast race-cars each week this season and that we'll have a chance to gain all that back next week at Texas. It's easy to look ahead to next week when you know you're bringing good pieces to the track every week now."

TEXAS NOTES--BLANEY AND #77 JASPER MOTORSPORTS TEAM

* DAVE BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team enter the Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway ranked 16th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings, only 42 points behind tenth-place Jeff Gordon after being sidelined early at Bristol last weekend following heavy contact with Michael Waltrip's spinning car on Lap 14; he returned to the race 125 laps down after substantial repairs and finished 38th.

* BLANEY fell nine positions in the WC standings after his Bristol misfortune from seventh-place the previous week, the highest-ever ranking for both BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Motorsports team; BLANEY's career-best third-place finish at Darlington two weekends ago was his third top-ten finish in four weeks (10th at NCS after his first career pole position, eighth at Atlanta).

* In last year's race at Texas Motor Speedway, BLANEY started 39th and finished 15th in his first trip to TMS with the #77 Jasper team; BLANEY's best career WC start at Texas (three starts) is 24th (4/00--28.584 secs.) and his best finish is sixth (4/01); best-start for Jasper-sponsored entries (six starts) is eighth (4/98-Robert Pressley/29.318 secs.) and best-finish is third (4/98--Pressley); BLANEY's stirring run to sixth-place in the 2001 race came after a tire problem in qualifying relegated the #93 BDR Dodge to the final provisional starting spot; he passed 61 cars in his run to the front.

* RYAN NEWMAN leads the trio of PENSKE-JASPER-powered entries in the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings, ranking 15th (668 points) as all three PJE entries are ranked in sequence entering this weekend's race at Texas; BLANEY (16th--652 points) trails Newman by 16 points while Rusty Wallace, the third driver in the PJE trio, ranks 17th.

* The Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will be the seventh 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 Radio Shack 500 at Texas will be BARKER's eleventh 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 12th 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.

-jm-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Scott Wimmer , Dave Blaney
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Bill Davis Racing