Monday August 25, 2008
Dave Blaney/ Caterpillar Racing – Sharpie 500
Bristol Motor Speedway
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 25, 2008) – Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team qualified in the 36th spot for the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway after a frustrating practice session Friday afternoon. The team made a multitude of changes to the car’s handling, which made a world of difference come raceday. Blaney had worked his way from the back of the pack to the top 15 before falling victim to an accident not of his making. The team was credited with a 38th-place finish when the checkered flag waved.
The No. 22 Bill Davis Racing team was the 32nd of 47 teams to take to the track for qualifying Friday afternoon. Blaney posted a speed of 119.188 mph around the .533-mile oval, which earned the team the 36th starting position for Saturday evening’s event.
Crew chief Tommy Baldwin and lead engineer Gene Nead put their heads together Saturday morning, and the team made significant changes to the Caterpillar Camry in an effort to find a handling package that would be better suited for the tight concrete track. Blaney took the green flag for the start of the 500-lap race, and it was immediately apparent that the new setup was going to make a big difference. Though he reported to the team in the early laps that the car handled loose, Blaney began to pick his way through traffic and during much of the first quarter of the race had one of the fastest cars on the track. Blaney patiently worked his way toward the front, and by lap 75, he had broken into the top 25.
The first pit stop of the night occurred during a caution period that began just before the lap-100 mark. Blaney communicated that the car had become tight in the center of the corners, so Baldwin called for an air pressure adjustment as well as four tires and fuel during the ensuing pit stop. Blaney made his way to his backstretch pit stall on lap 99. The Bill Davis Racing crew put together a quick stop, and Blaney returned to the track in the 20th position.
Though the car became tighter as the run wore on, Blaney drove his way into the top 15 on lap 172 and didn’t stop there. The veteran driver worked his way into the 12th spot before ducking down pit road for a routine stop under yellow on lap 202. Baldwin called for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment during that stop. The green flag waved once again on lap 208, but a multiple-car accident slowed the field again several laps later. The eight-car melee resulted in a red flag period while NASCAR and track officials worked to clean up the mess. Not all teams opted to make pit stops once the red flag was lifted, but Baldwin called Blaney into the pits for service. After four more fresh tires and fuel, Blaney returned to the track in 15th place, with 19 cars remaining on the lead lap.
Blaney continued to work his way toward the front in what appeared to surely be a top-15 finish. Unfortunately, there is no sure thing at the high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway, and as Blaney was lining up to pass the No. 01 on the bottom of the racetrack, the No. 01 and No. 28 cars got together. Reminiscent of last week’s accident in Michigan, the two made contact, and Blaney wound up getting the worst end of the deal when the No. 01 sideswiped him and sent him careening into the inside of the turn two wall. Though Blaney was alright following the hard contact, the car was not. The Caterpillar Racing team was once again forced to load up its wrecked racecar and head for home early.
The Sprint Cup Series will head west to California Speedway for next weekend’s event at the two-mile track. Qualifying for the Pepsi 500 is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 29. Coverage of the 500-mile race is scheduled for an 8 p.m. ET start, Saturday, Aug. 30 and will broadcast on ESPN (television), MRN (radio) and Sirius Satellite Radio. The Caterpillar Racing team is scheduled to participate in a two-day test at Gateway International Raceway before traveling to the West Coast.
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This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Kim DeHaven.
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