FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 4, 2007) - Survival was the name of the game for Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. After two disappointing finishes in as many weeks, the team's main goal was to finish the...
FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 4, 2007) - Survival was the name of the game for Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. After two disappointing finishes in as many weeks, the team's main goal was to finish the race ahead of those teams with which it is locked in a battle for the top 35 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series owners' points standings. Blaney was able to do just that during the event, as he took the checkered flag in 21st place.
Blaney was the last of 48 competitors to take to the track for his qualifying run Friday afternoon. His speed of 189.820 mph around the 1.5-mile track earned the team the 32nd spot on the starting lineup for Sunday's event.
The green flag waved for the start of the event Sunday, and Blaney immediately communicated to crew chief Tommy Baldwin that the handling of the Caterpillar Toyota was extremely tight in the center and off of the corners. Several early caution flags enabled Baldwin to make chassis adjustments to the car, and on lap 100, the No. 22 Camry was sitting just inside the top 30, one lap down.
On lap 109 of the 334-lap event, Blaney indicated to the team that he felt there was something wrong with the car. Luckily, NASCAR officials waved the yellow flag for an incident on the frontstretch several laps later. Blaney drove down pit road to the attention of crew on lap 122, and the crew changed four tires and filled the gas tank with fuel. Following the pit stop, the crew discovered that the right front tire had been losing air. Blaney returned to the track for the restart in the 34th spot.
Baldwin continued to make changes to the car throughout the event in an effort to make the car handle more to Blaney's liking. The veteran driver avoided several multi-car incidents during the race and made his way closer to the front of the pack through attrition and patience. Blaney passed several more cars in the closing laps, and when the checkered flag waved, he held the 21st spot.
Both the No. 21 and No. 45 cars, which hold 36th and 34th place, respectively, in the owners' point standings were involved in an early race accident. The Cat Racing team padded its lead over 36th place and now stands 127 points ahead. In addition, the team made up quite a bit of ground on the No. 45 and trails driver Kyle Petty by only 23 points.
With only two races left on the schedule, the NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend for the Checker Auto Parts 500. Qualifying for the event will be held Friday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon's race is scheduled for a 3:35 p.m. ET start. The race will be broadcast on ABC television, MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.