The No.10 team was plagued with problems all weekend but used pit strategy to put Dave Blaney in position to finish 13th in his first race south of the border. MEXICO CITY, MEX. (March 4, 2007)-Coming to Mexico City for his first race on the ...
The No.10 team was plagued with problems all weekend but used pit strategy to put Dave Blaney in position to finish 13th in his first race south of the border.
MEXICO CITY, MEX. (March 4, 2007)-Coming to Mexico City for his first race on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course, Dave Blaney knew he would have his work cut out for him. From the first laps on the track, problems loomed over the No.10 team, forcing them to overcome obstacle after obstacle to bring home a decent finish. Not only did the Fan1st.com team rise to the challenge, they pulled off an impressive turn around, setting Blaney up for a top-15 finish that helped move him up to the third position in the Busch Series point standings.
When Blaney piloted the No. 10 onto the 2.518-mile road course during the first part of practice on Friday, the team had every reason to be optimistic. Running competitive laps, Blaney returned to the garage for more adjustments. During the next run, bad luck struck the team. A part in the front suspension broke, sending Blaney off the track and right into the outside retaining wall. The damage could not be repaired and the team was forced to pull out a back up car. The Fan1st.com team rushed to get the back up car ready for final practice but replacing the engine took longer than expected. Blaney was only able to run one lap in the back up car before qualifying the next day.
Unsure of what to expect in qualifying, Blaney and a group of five other drivers began their six minute qualifying run on Saturday morning. Taking the opportunity to feel out the car, Blaney told the crew what needed to be changed before the race. The No.10 was fastest in its qualifying group but with hardly any laps on the car and no practice time, Blaney qualified 31st.
The team worked hard to prepare for the race and hoped that the car would be ready for the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200. When the green flag fell on the 80-lap event, Blaney could tell that this would be a long day for the team.
Starting near the back of the field, crew chief, Trent Owens knew he would have to play pit strategy to put Blaney in contention. Choosing to pit early, Owens called the No. 10 to pit road on lap 11 for four fresh tires and fuel.
Blaney reported after the pit stop that the car felt loose and was lacking grip in the eight turns of the road course. Shortly after, he radioed that the engine was lacking horsepower and he was having trouble keeping up with the cars around him. Fearing something was wrong with the engine, Owens once again called Blaney to pit road on lap 23 when the caution came out for the first time. Pitting for four fresh tires and fuel, the team also checked the throttle to find the problem but couldn't find anything.
Battling a lack of horsepower and grip on the race track, Blaney soon reported a problem turning. The power steering wasn't working very well and he was struggling to make the left and right hand turns.
Pit stops on laps 46 and 53 followed in an attempt to fix the car. On lap 46, Blaney came to pit road for fresh tires and fuel and when the new tires didn't improve the condition, came back to pit road on lap 53 so the team could open the hood and get a better look at the engine. Still finding nothing that could be causing the problem, Blaney headed back out on the track battling a hand full of issues.
With the calculator out, Owens decided to bring Blaney to pit road one final time on lap 62, knowing they had enough fuel to make it the rest of the way after that stop.
Pitting off sequence with much of the field, Blaney was able to stay out and gain positions when the cars in front of him had to come to pit road for fuel. Gaining ground each lap, Blaney had worked his way inside the top-20 for the first time.
As the laps wound down, the drivers seemed to get even more wound up. The closer the finish was the more cautions came out. Blaney avoided contact on the race track and was able to use patience to bring home the 13th finishing position, a finish that seemed impossible in the early laps of the race.
"We struggled to run well all day," Blaney said after the race. "We couldn't turn that well, but we salvaged a pretty good finish and we were pretty lucky to get out of here 13th. We never could get the car right, but late in the race, everybody seemed to be running into each other. I had some pretty good guys behind me that didn't run into me and I was able to avoid the cars in front of me. I just tried to stay on the track and bring the car home in one piece. This was my first time at this track and considering what we were up against all weekend; this is a spectacular finish for us today."
The NASCAR Busch Series heads to Las Vegas, Nevada next week for the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Saturday afternoon race, which is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. EST.