LAS VEGAS, NV (October 30) - The journey for a competitor to reach a sport's pinnacle is a difficult one, but remaining on top can be even tougher. Dale Blaney and the DB Racing team began the 2000 Pennzoil World of Outlaws season hoping to win...
LAS VEGAS, NV (October 30) - The journey for a competitor to reach a sport's pinnacle is a difficult one, but remaining on top can be even tougher. Dale Blaney and the DB Racing team began the 2000 Pennzoil World of Outlaws season hoping to win races and be consistent top five finishers. After working their way to the top of the mountain with their King's Royal victory in July, they have struggled to make it back. Their goal in this week's Z-Max Silver State Shootout is to finish on a high note at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"It's just two nights of racing, but if you can run well, the off-season starts off a little better," said Blaney about the final two nights of racing in the 2000 WoO season. "We weren't nearly as consistent during the final three months and that kind of takes away from some of our other success during the season. We'd like to finish with a couple of top five's and see if we can identify some of our late season problems over the winter."
The 2000 season was a make or break season for Blaney as he returned to the driver's seat of the Amoco #93. DJ Lindsey and Gene Jenkins were hired to maintain the Amoco Maxim, and as expected the trio began as any new team would with a few bright spots and some uneventful evenings on the competitive Outlaw trail during the first month including their 10th place finish at LVMS in March.
By April, the team began to find the right chemistry amongst themselves and with the potent Mopar Engines. The month began with Blaney running a solid third at Pike Co. Raceway before motor problems took him out of the race, but he wouldn't finish out of the top ten the rest of the month. Their consistency pushed the Amoco team to sixth in the standings. The month of May brought mostly finishes between seventh and 13th, but a pair of fifth place finishes at Lowe's Dirt Track and Rolling Wheels Raceway brought confidence to the new team. Two weeks later, Blaney had an impressive showing in front of more than 50,000 fans at the Channellock Challenge at Bristol as he stormed from 19th to fifth. Three nights later, he put it all together and dominated the race at Farmer City Raceway to claim his first career WoO "A" Feature.
"We wanted to win races this year," said Blaney, who was the WoO Rookie of the Year in 1998. "It took us a little bit to start working well together, but by June we had things going pretty well. I was really comfortable in the car and that had a lot to do with the fact that I was confident in DJ and Gene. They kept putting a fast racecar underneath me and I was happy that we were able to break through."
The success continued for the next month, as they were regular top three finishers. The high point of the season came in July when Blaney won his first King's Royal collecting $50,000 and a ton of confidence by holding off sprint car legend Steve Kinser for the win. The team had put themselves in the enviable position of being a threat to win every night out.
Unfortunately, that was their last trip to victory lane and the team hasn't been very consistent. A third place finish in the opener at the Amoco Knoxville Nationals and a third place finish at Hagerstown Speedway on October 4th have been the highlights since.
Finishing on a high note won't be easy for any of the competitors. Track conditions are rarely the same at the LVMS half-mile dirt oval. With a season of experience behind them, Blaney's hoping the Amoco #93 team can find the right set-up.
"Everyone has a tough time out here, because the track's always a little different," said Blaney, who's best finish at LVMS was a third on February 27, 1998. "Finding the right combination is going to be the key. We've had some rain out here and the forecast is calling for more, so who knows for sure what the track will be like. I know my Mopars will run good out here, and we seem to have success this year on the bigger half-mile tracks." Blaney will likely finish seventh in the Outlaw standings, but he proved that he has the ability to be a regular contender in one of most competitive Motorsports series.
"Overall, I think it has been a good season," concluded Blaney. "I think in the month of June and July we were in the hunt just about every night, but after that we just haven't been able to run consistently well. We're happy with the season, but I'm disappointed with the way things have gone the last three months. If I had to give our season a grade, I guess we'd earn a B." A victory in one of the two final races may not improve the grade to an "A", but it might put a better light on a very successful season for Blaney and the Amoco Team.