The Frontstretch: Driver Review : Dave Blaney by Kim DeHaven -- Tuesday December 9, 2008

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Driver Review : Dave Blaney

Kim DeHaven · Tuesday December 9, 2008

 

2008 Ride: No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Toyota
2008 Primary Sponsor: Caterpillar / Bad Boy Mowers
2008 Owner: Bill Davis
2008 Crew Chief: Tommy Baldwin

Stats: 35 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 2 Top 10s, 7 DNFs, 30th in points.
Best Finish: 9th — Darlington, Dover (June).

High Point: Dave Blaney’s run at Darlington was impressive. He started the race in the 13th position and kept his car in the Top 15 all night long. With great pit work by the No. 22 crew, Blaney brought home BDR’s first Top 10 of the season. His ninth place finish propelled the team back into the Top 35 and a guaranteed starting spot in the prestigious Coca-Cola 600.

Low Point: Blaney entered the season with a qualifying exemption for the first five races, but found himself sitting outside of the Top 35 following Bristol in March for the second time in as many years. Despite mustering a pair of Top 20 starting spots at Martinsville and Phoenix, Blaney failed to qualify for the 9th race of the season at Talladega in April — his lone DNQ.

Summary: The 2008 season was one of more downs than ups for the Cat 22 crew. Although Blaney was locked in with a qualifying exemption for the first five events of the season, a crash in the Daytona 500 and a string of subpar finishes saw the No. 22 car quickly fall out of the Top 35 after Bristol. A blown engine and a last place finish at Martinsville were followed by finishes of 21st and 30th at Texas and Phoenix, respectively. And then, the bottom fell out — the team DNQ’d at Talladega.

The disappointment of failing to qualify seemed to ignite Blaney and crew chief Tommy Baldwin, however, with the duo appearing hell-bent to turn the season around. For a time, they did, stringing together two ninth place finishes in the span of a month to push the team back into “locked in” qualifying status — but the momentum was short lived. In the last 22 races of the year, the team suffered five more DNFs — four from crashes and another from engine failure — and only finished inside the Top 20 four times.

2008 Team Ranking: 1. After failing to qualify for the Daytona 500, Blaney’s teammate, Jacques Villenueve, was fired. The No. 27 car attempted just three more races, only making the event at Las Vegas before being shelved due to lack of sponsorship.

2009 Outlook: Rumors are rampant regarding the No. 22 team. Talks of a merger with other teams still loom, and it has been reported that all but a few key personnel have been laid off at BDR’s Cup operations. Blaney is officially a free agent — his one-year contract has expired — but stated he would stay with the team if asked to return. With no sponsorship in place, how this team comes together next season is truly an unknown.

Quote Of The Year: “I was listening to the radio broadcast of the race after we fell out at Bristol, and they were talking about some new rivalry between Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. Well, I’ve got some news: there’s another big rivalry taking place here lately, and it’s the Caterpillar Camry versus the wall. Right now, the wall is kicking our tail. Wall three, Cat Camry zero.” Blaney after his stretch of wrecks in August

2006 Frontstretch.com Grade: C+.
2007 Grade: C-.
2008 Grade: D.

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