Under the Spotlight: Blaney Uses Two-Car Draft to Lead 21 Laps in Aaron's 499 at Talladega

Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR
Sunday’s race at Talladega had its ups and downs for the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing team as Dave Blaney was able to race his way from the 35th starting position to lead the race on several occasions. However, he got caught in an incident with the No. 22 of Kurt Busch with just four laps to go.

The team's overall goal this weekend in Alabama was to make their way into the top-35 in owner points in order to guarantee a spot in the race at Richmond.

Another goal was to rally a top-10 finish and help feed American families with the help of their sponsor Golden Corral. As part of the “Top 10 – Kids Eat Free” promotion, Golden Corral offered a free kids buffet with any paying adult and will donate $10,000 to Disabled American Veterans.

Last season, the TBR No. 36 started seventh but ended the race in the 42nd position after experiencing mechanical issues.

In Sunday’s race at Talladega, Blaney and the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet started from the 35th position and lead six different times for a total of 21 laps.

Blaney teamed up with the No. 29 Budweiser of Kevin Harvick for much of the race. The pair hung in the back during the early laps in order to avoid any wrecks and to experiment with the two-car drafting.

Following the season-opener at Daytona, Blaney spoke about the two-car tandem: “It makes it a lot harder on the single-car teams like us,” said Blaney. “We did a good job at Daytona but as we got to the front we lost our drafting partners to their teammates.”

Midway through the race around Lap 100, Blaney took the lead and continued to work with Harvick until the restart on Lap 144 when Harvick paired up with his teammate. As a result, Blaney teamed up with the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet of Regan Smith. With Smith pushing from behind, Blaney was able to make it back up to the lead.

Later in the race, Blaney found Kurt Busch as his partner and took the lead once again on Lap 180. In order to avoid being pummeled as cars raced for the front position, Blaney and Busch fell back to 13th and anticipated their move for the win.

However, with just four laps to go, Busch pushed Blaney a tad to hard into traffic causing him to spin coming off of turn four. “That is what is going to happen late in the race,” said Blaney. “I can’t believe it didn’t happen more. You just get such huge runs, it shoves you in there and if there is nowhere to go, you’re in danger of getting turned around.” Despite his misfortune, Blaney was able to recover without any damage and crossed the finish line in the 27th position.

After this weekend’s race, the No. 36 TBR team sits 37th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner standings - just 12 points outside of the top-35. Blaney gained one position in the driver standings and is 33rd.

After what started as a promising day for the No. 36 team, they now look to qualify for the race at Richmond to help them gain momentum in the standings and hopefully make it into the top-35 in owner points - placing more focus on strategy rather than qualifying.

“I guess now it is just a morale booster,” said Blaney. “It could have been good, a really nice accomplishment for a little team. But, we’ll take all the good we can out of it and go.”
Under the Spotlight: Blaney Uses Two-Car Draft to Lead 21 Laps in Aaron's 499 at Talladega Under the Spotlight: Blaney Uses Two-Car Draft to Lead 21 Laps in Aaron's 499 at Talladega Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 Rating: 5